How Drainage Around Your House Affects Your Foundation

By:    |   Published February 27, 2017
Front exterior of house and yard.

Although you may never see it, the foundation of a home is a vital aspect to its strength and stability. A proper foundation does more than keep your house above ground: It should also keep out moisture, insulate against the cold and resist movement of the ground surrounding it. There are many factors to consider, such as drainage around your house and soil condition, to help avoid a cracked foundation. The type of soil can have a big impact on the quality and lifespan of your home’s foundation.

Types of Soil

Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.

Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.

Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:

Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.

Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.

Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.

Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.

Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.

Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.

Improving Drainage Around Your House

Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.

Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!

Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.

Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.

Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.

Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about basement waterproofing options from EverDry Toledo.

4 Basement Waterproofing Options Info Graphic

Schedule a Free 20-Point Inspection

If you have questions about your foundation or would like to schedule an inspection to ensure the base of your home is in good shape, EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you pinpoint the source of the moisture problem. If it’s foundation-related, our waterproofing solutions can make your basement dry, healthy, and comfortable.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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