Drainage Systems: The Feet of Your Home

August 12th 2011
Drainage Systems: The Feet of Your Home

Have you ever wondered, how does my drainage system work?

You first must determine the land the home sits on and how the home was structured. Is it on a full basement, crawl space or slab on grade and what do each of these terms mean? Does the home sit on a sloping piece of property and if so what can you expect in the future: surface water, roof water, ground water? How can that effect down deep in the ground around the foundation footings called the perimeter drain system. This may (and did) cause a few glazed open eyed looks in the audience because drain tiles typically are out of sight, out of mind.

How would you like to be a new home buyer tapped out with your new mortgage payments only to find that you have a musty damp crawlspace or basement. Then you find that your perimeter drainage requires more than just cleaning but instead requires digging around your home to replace or repair unserviced drainage tiles costing in the thousands of dollars. When completed you gain a fresh smelling crawlspace or basement but nothing that is ascetically pleasing.

Ask yourself whether you had a home inspection done when you bought your last house. Did they address anything to do with drainage, odours, white powder on concrete walls or floors in the crawlspace or basement. This is about as far as home inspectors can go, they do not have x-ray eyes to see into the ground. In fact they cannot even find the concrete catch basin sump the drainage tiles run into before the water is taken to the city storm sewer system. Please note: not all homes have a catch basin sump; a qualified drainage contractor can advise you on this. Keep in mind, this may not only be a new home buyer scenario as we have found many people, even retirees who had never thought of the consequences in the event of a concern with water causing smelly crawlspaces, basements and white powder coming though walls and floors.

If your home is 10 years of age or older, you know the history of your home and nothing has been done regarding drainage maintenance, your drainage requires if nothing else an inspection by a qualified drainage contractor. Here are some points that should be addressed.

1. How long have you lived in your home?
2. Where is (if one) is the collector catchment sump?
3. How close are the trees, shrubs, back fill settlement to the home?
4. Level, sloping or swale on the lot?
5. When was the last perimeter (weeping tile) service completed?
6. Any signs of moisture in the crawlspce, basement, around floor on a slab on grade home. damp carpet, white powder, musty odours, wood flooring stains? Note: These could appear on the floor, wall or where concrete floors and wall meet.
7. If you are buying or selling a home be prepared to answer these questions.
8. Any home 10 years or older with no history of drainage maintenance should have one done as soon as possible.
9. After a first initial maintenance cleaning it should be repeated every 3 - 5 years thereafter. Your drainage contactor will advise you as to which you should consider. It will be based on their findings when the initial service is completed.

Whether you are purchasing or selling a home, this information is as important as any other inspections item. So do not forget in your subject options on an offer of purchase to include a subject to perimeter drainage inspection. Its just that Easy!

Are there anything you can do about these clogged drain tiles? The answer is yes. There are a few simple steps you can take yourself, to limit the amount of water entering your basement or crawl space.

First, keep your gutters clean. Second, extend your downspouts 7 to 10 feet away from the house. And third, check the grading around your house. Add soil where needed, so the grading is away, not towards the foundation. Make sure you can see 6 inches of your exposed foundation wall above the landscaping level.

These three easy steps will help to remove much of the rain water that is running down, from the roof of your home. While these steps will not solve a water problem, they will help to reduce the volume of water around the foundation.

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