Now’s the Time to Correct Drainage Issues

With the recent onslaught of afternoon thunderstorms (we’ve gone from Michigan weather to Florida weather in the course of a few days!), you may have noticed a little water in your basement. This may be the result of an insufficient slope away from your foundation or a sump pump that’s not in good, working order.

Typically graded during the initial sod installation, your grass may develop low and high areas from hidden underground piping or decomposing tree stumps that can negatively affect your yard’s entire slope. As a result, your lawn mowing is uneven and standing water accumulates in the low areas … or, even worse, runs into your basement or crawlspace. Correcting the grade involves filling the low areas with soil so that your yard has a continuous slope. And, you’re in luck. Now is the PERFECT time to tackle this task – during those weeks when grass is still vigorously growing and the chances of successful weed seed germination within the newly added soil are reduced.

So, how much slope?

A good slope to aim for when grading land extending out from a house foundation is about six inches for the first 10 feet (that’s a slope of 5 percent). For details on how to determine this slope, click here!

Once you determine your needs, you should spread well-draining soil with a crumbly texture to sprinkle on the low areas. Work your way down the grade and then return to your first low area and carefully spread the soil out using a rake, so that the grass blades have an even one-half inch layer of earth across the entire low area. You should be able to see all the grass blades above the newly added soil. Spread the soil on each low area using the rake until you complete all of your filling. Wait six weeks to repeat the filling process if your lawn’s grade still requires alteration. This time period allows the grass to grow and acclimate to the first soil layer.

Now, what about that sump pump?

It is important to keep the discharge point of your sump pump as far from your foundation as possible. The minimum distance should be 10 feet. Most discharge pipes have a flexible hose tightly attached to the pipe coming from the basement. During non-freezing weather this works just fine.

Grab your umbrella and take a walk around your home during the next heavy rain. If you see pooling near the foundation, corrections are necessary. Correcting the slope (as recommended above) is going to give this water a place to go. In addition, make sure to periodically check your system during the winter months. A frozen sump pump will damage your home as when the water begins to thaw it has no place to go … except your basement or crawl space.

An added side note, many local water utilities are paying equal attention to sump pump issues. Lebanon Utilities recently launched a “No Flood Zone” campaign, reminding residents that sump pumps should NOT be connected to sanitary sewers – which creates an inflow issue for stormwater as well as increasing the risk of sewage back-ups in basements.

After making these corrections, if you are still experiencing a leaky basement, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 317.896.2885 or contact us at