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Prevent wet cellar walls and flooded lawns

Q. During heavy rainfall I get water coming into the basement where the concrete floor meets the walls. Also, the concrete in the walls appears to have some flaking. What are my best options to fix this?


Many times water in the basement is due to a lack of gutters

courtesy Rob Robillard

Many times water in the basement is due to a lack of gutters

A. Water in your basement can come from a lot of places. Many times it is due to a lack of gutters, improper ground sloping, clogged perimeter pipes, or hydrostatic pressure.

The first thing to check is the grading around the house and the gutters. Ensure that your gutters are not clogged and that they are draining well away from your foundation walls; 10 feet is my preference. Most folks I know do not like downspouts extending out far. If there is pavement in this area, make sure it slopes away. Correct it if it does not.

If you do not have gutters, consider getting them.

It’s important to make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation ½-inch per foot, or 5 inches over a 10-foot distance. If the property lines are too close, consider increasing this slope and using swales or underground drain piping.

A swale can easily solve standing water, flooding, and yard-drainage problems. A swale is simply a shallow ditch that is used to carry off water and relies on gravity (a slope) to drain. Swales are often wide and so shallow that you do not notice them in a lawn. I like them because they are maintenance- and electricity-free, with only one negative aspect. The longer a swale gets, the deeper it needs to be.


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