Basement Water Might Be Caused By A Grading Problem

Before you go buy waterproofing paint and sealers for your basement, consider where the basement water is coming from and if the source can be stopped or diverted. That’s not to say that sealers can’t be part of the solution, but as the old saying goes, “treat the cause and not just the symptom”.

When there’s basement water it can be caused by any number of things. One obvious culprit could be a roof water problem such as overflowing gutters. This could be due to a clog or, perhaps, an overburdened seepage pit.

Just recently we came across a situation where the basement sump pump was piped into one of the property’s seepage pits. During extended periods of rain this seepage pit would “max out” and fill with water. The sump pump would keep running but the water had nowhere to go. You guessed it…the basement!

Grading Is The First Thing To Check

Ideally, the degree of pitch away from the foundation should be 5%. This amounts to 1″ of drop for every 2 feet of distance. So if you pitch the grade 6 feet away from the foundation, the grade level should be 3 inches lower at that point.

This insures that water will move away from the house that:

  • Has fallen naturally by rainfall.
  • Has fallen because of no roof gutters or gutters that are not working.
  • Is moving towards the house because of poor grading elsewhere in the yard.

This consistent 5% pitch away from the foundation is your first line of defense for basement water.

The Project

I must admit I do “go by eye” on some things in the landscape, but setting grades is not one of them. Grades are the basis for the site’s engineering – if they’re wrong it will affect everything else.

In the picture above you see a basement window with a masonry window-well around it. This home had basement water.

To get an accurate measurement of the existing grade I used my Zip Level to check the grade levels throughout the foundation area. Essentially the area was “flat,” and in some spots actually lower by the foundation. Not good!

Of course you can measure grade levels using a number of different tools and methods. The point here is to actually measure them. Every inch…every fraction of an inch can make a difference.

The Solution

As a first step toward solving this home’s basement water, we had to re-grade the land to get pitch away from the foundation.

In order to get the 5% recommended pitch we had to add soil close to the foundation.

The existing masonry window-well was too low to accommodate the added soil height, so we added brick on top. Not only did the bricks give us the added soil retainment height, but they gave the window-well a nice finished look.

I should also mention that the roof gutters were re-worked too. The gutter size itself was increased and the leader pipes were reconfigured to more evenly share the load of roof water.

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