A waterlogged basement is the last thing that most homeowners want to see. Nevertheless, it happens to thousands of homeowners each year and it can easily cost thousands of dollars to properly fix. Many homeowners resort to expensive waterproofing solutions that are often inadequate because of moisture and gas infiltration.
The good news is that these problems can be resolved before they even begin with just a little preventative effort. The following explains how improving the drainage around your home's basement and/or foundation can help keep your basement dry.
Busting Basement Leak Myths
The most common assumption about basement leaks is that they're caused by a high water table. To begin with, most home builders avoid building basements in areas where rising water tables are commonplace. Secondly, water table movement often depends on the soil type as well as seasonal conditions, resulting in a water table that moves slowly and on a seasonal basis.
Problems that stem from rising water tables usually happen slowly enough to catch and correct. In most cases, this involves installing a sump pump and basin or a French drain system that redirects water to another location that accepts excess water runoff, usually a municipal drain or a dry well.
How Drainage Conditions Affect Basement Leaks
Instead of blaming your water table, you should focus your attention on the drainage conditions around your home. For instance, high saturation of the soil surrounding your home's foundation can easily cause excess water to leak into the basement. Such problems can easily show up after a hard rain or substantial snow melt.
Improving these drainage conditions can help stop most basement leaks or at least alleviate them to a substantial degree. When investigating drainage issues, you should take a look at your roof drainage system as well as the soil slope surrounding your home.
Improved Gutters Equal Improved Basement Waterproofing
So, what do your gutters have to do with basement leaks? Quite a lot, as it turns out. During a heavy rainstorm, your roof is tasked with collecting and redirecting all of the rainfall it receives. That runoff inevitably ends up flowing into the gutters surrounding the edges of your roof. Under ideal circumstances, that rainfall gets channeled away into a drainage area far from your home.
Unfortunately, two things can get in the way of that relatively smooth and simple process:
- Gutters that haven't been properly cleaned
- A poorly designed gutter system
The former is much easier to deal with. When gutters become clogged up with leaves and other organic debris, it can cause rainfall to overflow the channels and dump out right next to your home's foundation. Cleaning your gutters is a simple yet effective deterrent against this problem. Ideally, you should clean your gutters during the fall and spring, when leaves and other debris are most likely to fall and collect within the drainage channels. If your home iss surrounded by pine or other trees that shed frequently, you should step up your cleaning efforts on a quarterly basis.
Meanwhile, a properly designed gutter system should have at least one downspout for every 600 to 800 feet of roof surface, with the ends of each downspout extended between four to six feet away from the foundation. This will keep rainwater from being released near the basement.
Improved Soil Sloping Also Helps
The angle of the soil surrounding your home's foundation also plays a role in keeping your basement dry. Not having a properly set slope can cause water to collect against foundation walls after a hard rain or major snow melt. Under ideal circumstances, you want your soil to slope downward approximately six inches over a four-foot area. Beyond that, you can set a gentler slope as long as it doesn't let water run back towards the foundation wall.
To improve your soil grading, build it up using clean fill dirt instead of topsoil, as topsoil can hold water against the foundation wall. After having it tamped down to the correct slope, you can overlay it with your choice of topsoil, mulch or stone. Just make sure that you avoid landscaping treatments that retain large amounts of water or prevent proper drainage, such as brick edging around gardens located close to your home's foundation.
Improving the drainage around your home can help you simplify your basement waterproofing needs, which in turn helps save you money and the frustration of dealing with a wet and moldy basement. Click for more information about this topic.