If asked about how water moves, most people would say with gravity or that water flows to the point of least resistance. Which is certainly true, but I want you to get that out of mind when thinking about water infiltration into your house.
Think of it like this instead. Water is actively and maliciously trying to ruin you and everything you love.
Imagine that water is actively trying to get through the most microscopic cracks in your foundation wall to ruin that new carpet in your basement. Or that it’s eagerly seeking a path it can take through a crack in your vinyl siding so it can get behind it and start growing mold. Or that it’s gathering in the attic because of poor ventilation to ruin your ceiling and make potential buyers balk because they see a stain on the ceiling.
Protect your home from water like you owe it money and insulted its sister.
There’s a lot of different ways that water can get into your house, so I expect I’ll make this a mini-series. Today’s topic, though:
One of the first things a typical home inspector looks at when inspecting a house is the grading around the house. It can often identify other problems, such as flooding in the basement, before we even step inside the house.
Grading refers to the slope of the ground around the house. By code, it should slope away from the house at a rate of one inch per foot for six feet. That means that six feet out from the house it’s dropping an inch a foot. Why is that important? Because it allows water to run away from the house—away from the foundation wall or the wall covering. If water runs into the house, you end up with foundation damage and potential basement leaks.
Sometimes its impossible to have a slope away from the house because of the terrain. In that case, you can install a French drain. This is a buried pipe that catches water flowing toward the house and whisks it off to somewhere it can’t do harm.
This all sounds pretty simple—and indeed it is, but it is one of the most common problems I list on reports. Many times too, when people have problems with water in their basement they turn to other solutions: painting the walls (effective only for a very short time), tarring the outside of the foundation wall (a good plan, but only part of the solution), or in the case of one house—pouring concrete in the basement to attempt to funnel the water toward a sump pump.
The latter was the least effective of all, as you might imagine. An effective solution would involve fixing the grading around the house and ensuring all gutters and downspouts are working properly and not clogged. Ah! About downspouts . . .
Another common problem are downspouts terminating in such a way that they direct water toward the house. This is so, so easy to fix. All that has to be done is to put an extension or piece of corrugated pipe so that the water is directed well away from the house. This sounds simple, but is often overlooked by homeowners. My house has had a problem with basement flooding and just adding pipe or extensions to some of the downspouts that needed it cut that problem in half. Just that simple!
Remember, water hates you and your family, but it has its limitations. It can’t disobey the law of gravity (thought it can be creative) so it can’t flow uphill. Exploit this weakness in your opponent and keep your basement carpet warm and dry, like it should be.