While digging up the earth outside your foundation, waterproofing the walls and installing a new footing drain is almost never a good idea, there are a few things that can be done to the outside of your home to reduce (not prevent) the amount of water getting into your basement. Here are a few trade secrets for homeowners:
Grading. If the soil around your foundation is pitched towards the foundation, it’s a good idea to add dirt so that the soil slopes away. Be sure not to use sand or mulch, because water flows right down through these materials whether they are pitched or not. It’s best to use clay or other dense dirt. Be sure that you keep the dirt at least four inches down from the siding though. If the siding is close or touching the soil, it will rot and you’ll have another problem. Termites could also create a highway into your home undetected.
Gutters. Keep your gutters clean. There are a variety of gutter screening and cover materials that work well to keep them clean. Inspecting and cleaning them out annually will keep your gutters from dumping water next to your foundation.
Downspouts. Make sure that your downspouts extend away from the home’s foundation. One way is to bury extension pipes underground to the edge of your yard to take roof waterway. However, you need pitch (slope) in your yard to do it. And remember all the leaves, pine needles, acorns and twigs that wind up in your gutter will be going into those underground pipes and cause them to clog. If you do bury pipes underground we recommend you use as few elbows as possible and put as much pitch on the pipes as possible.
Caution: Don’t rely on grading, clean gutters, and downspout extensions alone to keep your basement dry. However, making these simple changes and installing an interior drainage system is the perfect formula for keeping your basement dry year-round!