Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 by Ryan Weyers
Believe it or not a lot of homeowner’s foundation nightmares start and end one simple solution, a proper grade around your foundation. When I say the word grade what I am referring to is the pitch or level at which the soil sits at the base of the foundation compared to the rest of the yard. You’ll find that your grade will be one of three things: negative, level or positively pitched. Many times finding this pitch can easily be achieved by just the naked eye, however you can also put a level extending from the foundation out into the yard and reading where the bubble lies.
If your yard is positively pitched away from the foundation your yard should be able to do its job and shun most of the water away due to the clay soils resisting soaking it up.
If your yard is level or at a negative grade the next step would be to convert this to a positive one. To achieve this you will need to add dense dirt or clay near the foundation. Be sure to not use sand or mulch because water flows right down through these materials whether they are pitched or not. A good rule of thumb is to have five inches of pitch for the first ten feet, but be sure you keep the dirt at least four inches down from the siding. If the siding is close or touching the soil, it will rot and you’ll have a whole other problem. If you have access to a tamper at the time you are adding the dirt go ahead and tamp the dirt down immediately otherwise you will have to wait for it to settle. Once the dirt settles you will be able to start your landscaping or whatever other plans you had for the space.
With all of this in mind just know that you can’t rely on grading your yard alone to keep your basement dry, it will only help to supplement it.