With the recent rains, many people are noticing they have drainage problems with their yards or worse inside their homes. We all know someone who called their insurance company after their basement had flooded only to find out that the Homeowners Policy doesn’t cover floods. If you were one of the lucky homeowners that did not have damage from the first set of rain storms last week, brace yourselves. We have more rain on the way. There are, however, some simple things you can do to avoid these expensive repairs to your home. The first step is to take a look around your home’s foundation and yard. Here are a few common items to look for:
- Check your downspouts:
- Do they let out right by your house? If so, the water may not easily flow away and could seep down against your basement walls, possibly making its way inside. Hopefully, if the water does get inside, your sump pump will push it back outside. But, what happens if that sump line also dumps the water out by the foundation? Then the cycle happens all over again. It is only a matter of time until the pump burns out, and you find yourself ankle deep in water.
- Are all drainage lines (e.g. the black piping or stone river beds) installed properly with the correct slope away from your house? Make sure the water is let out in a safe area of the property that does not cause other issues or problems for you or your neighbor. The only thing worse than flooding your own basement, is flooding your neighbor’s. It will make those neighborhood get-togethers a little awkward.
- Are your downspouts buried? Then it is also important to check every few months to make sure the ends of the drain lines are letting water out properly and not blocked or grown over with grass or plants. You may need to call a professional to unblock downspouts that are buried.
- Clean your gutters regularly:
- Gutters should be cleaned in the spring and the fall and should be checked before substantial storms, like the storms on the way.
- If you don’t want to worry about the recurring costs or scheduling issues, have gutter covers installed. These prevent most debris from flowing into the gutter system and blocking the downspouts. Gutter covers also prevent countless trips to the emergency room for all those “do-it-yourselfers” who decide to clean their own gutters.
- Check your hardscapes:
- Does your driveway or patio slope back towards your house? If so, you either hired the wrong contractor, or you are one of those previously mentioned “do-it-yourselfers.” It is best to have this fixed by a professional as soon as possible.
- Do you have a “sunken” garage? Make sure there is a large “strip” drain across the driveway that is capable of catching ALL the water even during a torrential rain. Then, make sure the strip drain endind is clear and able to let the water out away from your home.
- Check your landscape beds:
- Do your landscape beds slope away from your home? A good rule of thumb is to have a 5 to 10 foot slope from your home’s foundation that drops at least 5 inches. Many times the dirt around a new home’s foundation will settle over the first few years. Make sure to add soil, if needed, to keep a positive slope away from the foundation.
- Check all sunken window wells and basement staircases:
- Do you have sunken window wells or basement stairs? If so, clean out the bottom of window wells and staircase drains regularly – especially in the fall. If possible, cover your window well with plastic covers, or, at a minimum, ensure the drain at the bottom is working properly. These areas are the most common location for water to enter into homes.
- Check your Homeowners Insurance:
- Does it cover floods? Probably not. If you have any of the above risk factors (and do not plan on fixing them) or have had your home flood before, you may want to look into purchasing a separate Flood Insurance policy.
If you have questions or concerns with the drainage around your home make sure to call a licensed, professional contractor (preferably Kane Landscapes, Inc.) that has experience with these types of problems. Water issues can be tricky; the only thing worse than having your home flooded is having it happen again.