No homeowner wants a wet basement. A flooded basement is a worst case scenario on the wet basement front. Too much moisture down below can lead to any number of problems that can be costly to repair such as warped flooring, rotting sheet-rock or the dreaded black mold. Upholstered furnishings can develop mildew and expensive electronics can simply fizzle out. Worst of all, a home’s foundation can become compromised, threatening structural integrity for the entire home. For homeowners who are considering selling their home, a wet basement can lower property value by as much as 25%. When searching for solutions, many homeowners are surprised to find that wet basement repair often starts with correcting landscaping mistakes.
Although most think of a retaining wall as a barrier or, perhaps, a container for plantings, it is an important part of the landscape’s drainage strategy. Not only should they be engineered to look fantastic, blending seamlessly into an outside garden, but construction should deliver a structure built to last and drains flawlessly. So many things factor into a properly constructed retaining wall: soil type, condition of soil, geometry of the wall’s location, direction of water flow for drainage and how much volume of water can be managed. Common materials used are stacked stone or timbers. French drain solutions offer the greatest flexibility in managing and directing drainage flow while offering a natural appearance. Get the details wrong on a retaining wall near the home and you may have just created a cleverly disguised water pit that is slowly seeping into the basement.
If a property has an area that is perpetually moist, this may be a naturally occurring drainage swale. Such an area is usually lower lying than the surrounding area. This is where water runoff drains away, perhaps eventually feeding into a local stream. Professional landscapers will take advantage of such a feature or, if lacking, will integrate a man-made swale into a landscape design as part of an effective drainage strategy. Swales serve many more purposes than simply carrying water run-off away from a property. Proper drainage, managed and directed, will also preserve a homeowner’s investment in the trees on their property. Unmanaged run-off can cause erosion where you least want it. This can cause tree roots to become exposed over time, damaging or killing off affected trees. By creating a water-flow channel, soil quality can be maintained and surrounding trees, shrubs and turf continue to thrive. However, best of all, the water does not end up in the basement.
When a home is first constructed, great care is taken to engineer and install the perimeter grade that surrounds the foundation of the home. This is not a one time job. Over time the home will settle. A perimeter grade will settle, compact and erode as well. In order to avoid a wet basement, it is important to keep a well-maintained perimeter grade around the home. Neglect can result in an incorrect slope that will not drain water away from the home. It could, in effect, become a moat, trapping water that will eventually find its way down into a basement thanks to gravity.
Patios & Walkways
Although primarily to provide areas to gather or travel upon, patios and walkways can have a significant impact upon drainage. To water run-off, patios and walkways are obstructions that re-direct water flow. If a homeowner performs a do-it-yourself project, installing a pathway of pavers or creating a patio, they may be in for a nasty surprise when the next downpour occurs. Pooling may occur in the yard, with water trapped, having no where to go. Or, even worse, a direct pathway toward the house may have been unintentionally created resulting in a wet basement. An experienced professional will understand how these structures will interact with an inundation of rainfall. Skilled landscape design will create a pathway for water runoff away from the house.
Many homeowners don’t consider basement windows as part of their home’s landscape. However, points of egress must be factored into every aspect of landscape design. After all, this is a critical area water runoff must always be directed away from. The only thing a homeowner wants pouring into the basement window is natural sunlight during the day. Directional barriers for water runoff should be beautiful, not eyesores. They should blend with the surrounding landscape, becoming an integral feature, not stick out like a sore thumb. By using the same materials for walkway, patio or retaining wall construction, it is easy to see that a basement window well egress is, indeed, part of landscape design.
To look at a French drain, it seems that creating one is simply a matter of tossing down a bunch of stones where you want them, right? Wrong. Although it may appear simplistic, this fantastic method of managing water accumulation and directing it in order to avoid intrusion into certain areas actually requires quite a bit of expertise to do it right. Underneath that layer of rock is a system of perforated pipes, certain types of gravel and sophisticated fabrics constructed of specialized textiles. All are then laid out in a pattern that takes into account the geometry of slope factors contained within the property and water volume. Installing an effective French drain system that doesn’t clog and diverts water in the right direction is a job for a professional if a homeowner wants to avoid wet basement repair in the future.
If a homeowner is experiencing wet basement problems, the first step to remediation may be to address drainage issues with the home’s outer landscape. Even if a basement seems high and dry, to protect the home’s investment and prevent water intrusion in the future, consider how long it has been since landscaping has been inspected. There may be problem areas that are developing. An early correction can save costly repairs down the road. Please contact us and consult with a drainage professional today and develop a strategy to keep your basement dry.