Foundation Drainage | Landscape Drainage

by Jane
(Des Moines IA)

Hello - my kids are having a terrible time with foundation drainage and water runoff from neighboring properties that are a good 30' up-slope from their house. Their property is about 3 acres and slopes toward one side, and eventually down to a pond. They have a huge front yard area with a driveway on both sides of the property.

They got a great deal on the land and property a few years ago when they married, and now have discovered why the great deal - water is caving in their basement walls (concrete blocks).

A waterproofing company and shoring up company have given them bids of $10,000+, which they cannot afford.

It would seem that redirecting some of this water using trenches and tile would be a less expensive and more permanent solution. The waterproofing is done inside the basement along the walls, and doesn't seem like a permanent solution to me.

This is not my specialty, however, I'm in human resources (laugh here). This seems like it would be a better solution in the long run though.

I can send a picture if it would help, but don't have access to one at this moment.

What is your opinion?

Thank you!



Hi Jane,
I see a few solutions to this foundation drainage problem. You can also visit my page Landscape Grading.

1. When you used the phrase "caving in", I am not sure if you meant that the walls are literally doing that or if you just meant the water is entering through these concrete block walls. If the walls are caving in, that is out of my area of expertise. However, if the water is coming in
via the block walls and flooding the basement, you could put drains in the basement. The drains would then lead to a sump pump where the water is collected and then led out of the house. In other words, the water is allowed to enter the basement but then dealt with on that level.

2. You mentioned that the neighbor's house is 30 feet up the slope...not sure if you meant the neighbors property is 30 feet away from your house or 30 feet higher. If I knew how much higher AND the distance, I would know the severity of the slope and could advise more intelligently.

You are on the right track with your idea of grading the water away from the house for correct foundation drainage. This must be done for a minimum of 5 feet distance at a pitch of 2% or 1/4 inch per foot. Once this is done, the remainder of the slope will be steeper. So now it is a matter of figuring out if the slope would be acceptable or too steep. If too steep, you will need a retaining wall.

The perimeter of the five foot area can be graded away into a swale.

3. Another option for landscape drainage is a french drain along the house to take the water away. However, I prefer really taking the water away by grading if possible.

These are all general ideas but the acceptable ways of dealing with a water problem that you described. Without the right information or even pictures, a correct solution is difficult.

If you would like to send pictures or discuss this further, just comment here. You can also Contact Me via email.

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