Erosion, ice build-up, water in the basement, seasonal ponds in the middle of the lawn (a breeding ground for mosquitoes), debris washing over driveways, dead grass, drowned trees… These are the effects of some common drainage problems to watch out for in Mecklenburg County and Halifax County, VA. Fortunately, they are all solvable.
#1: Improperly Installed Gutters and Downspouts
Look for drip lines around your foundation; mold; and excessive plant growth. The amount of water that runs off a typical home’s roof is astonishing. Gutters and downspouts are essential for keeping water away from your home’s foundation. But when gutters or downspouts are clogged, the gutters overflow and water can then pool around the foundation, causing structural problems, drowning foundation plantings, and even damaging your home’s siding. Make sure that your gutters are clean, that they are not leaking, and that the downspouts direct water far from the home’s foundation.
#2: Poor Grading
Look for ponds that appear after a rain; and wet foundations. Ideally, a property is graded so that water naturally flows away from the house and that there are no surface depressions. Even the slightest slope toward the home, or the slightest natural depression, will cause problems. This includes homes located in the middle of a slope, where the upslope portion of the foundation is extremely vulnerable to water infiltration. There are several solutions to poor grading and depressions: a series of surface drains; subsurface drainage systems; or, in more drastic cases, improved grading (which could mean a complete landscape renovation).
#3: Hardscape Design
Look for standing water on your hardscapes; or signs of strong runoff. Any paved surface (driveway, walkway, patio, or pool deck) must be sloped slightly to direct water away from the home or away from sensitive landscape features. The trick here is moderation. Too much slope away from the home, and you’ll have water cascading down the hardscape and flowing off the edge, causing erosion. Too little slope, and the increasing pressure of standing water on a patio could push water in the wrong direction (toward the home). Minimize improper hardscape slopes by working with an experienced landscape contractor.
Look for backed up drainage pipes. Over time, tree roots can invade perforated drainage pipes, squeezing in and finding a very hospitable environment in which to grow. Roots love all the moisture that comes through the pipe, and naturally, they will grow and grow, eventually clogging the pipe and/or causing it to burst. All perforated pipe should be wrapped in filter fabric, and joints should be glued to keep roots from finding their way in.
#5. The Soil
Look for soggy soil. Some soils naturally hold more water while other types filter water easily. Soils are primarily sand, silt, or clay. Sandy soils don’t hold water at all. If the property slopes even a little bit toward the house, there will be little to stop the water from flowing toward your foundation. Clay soils drain very slowly (you’ll know you have clay if it sticks to your shoes like, well, clay). Silt falls somewhere in the middle. To test your soil, dig a hole and fill it with water. Ideally, it should drain away completely within 4 hours: immediate drainage means sandy soil, and overly slow drainage means clay soil. Improve sandy soil with organic matter, and clay soil with coarse aggregate and organic matter.