How to Keep Your Basement Dry This Spring

Keeping your basement dry during a rainy Spring can be a challenge, especially here in The Bay Area.  But here are a few things you can do.

The water entering your basement usually comes in the form of rain. And under normal circumstances, Mother Nature distributes this evenly and there are few problems in your basement. The problem is that a house creates huge catchment areas we call roofs, which discharge concentrated water through downpipes. If you do not manage what happens next, water can flow and settle around your foundation, into the earth and eventually cause leaks in your basement.

The problem often peaks in March and April as The Bay Area emerges from a cool winter to face heavy rain showers. Poorly graded gardens become soggy graveyards for lawns and plants. Water pools everywhere, finding its way downwards into your basement where it inflicts more damage. Fortunately, all these problems are avoidable.

Having a good contractor is key to a good outcome. We hired a highly rated remodeling contractor in Redwood City to inspect our roof, basement and the rest of the home. We were happy we did as they found the issue rather quickly.

Start With the Gutters

Your initial step is to make sure that all the rainwater enters the gutters and flows down through the downpipes. That is because having it splash down over them merely moves the problem. Clean out your eavestroughs thoroughly. If they still overflow, you probably need deeper ones for more capacity.

Lead the Water Away

Now you have the roof water under control, it is time to manage it when it hits the ground. The trick is to lead it away in a controlled fashion. If you are fortunate, the ground may slope naturally and lead to a drain to take it away. If that is the case, adjust the gradient for at least ten feet away from the house so it falls by a total of six inches without any hollows.

Lay rows of concrete leaders from the downpipes to the bottom of the slope. This should do the trick and your basement should stay dry. However if the ground remains waterlogged pave the uppermost three feet. As an added bonus, you will now have a pathway beneath the eaves where you can stay dry.

If You Can’t Get That Right

If the layout of your land does not permit a natural run-off, then your next best option is to lay an underground sewer and connect the downpipes directly to it (check with your local municipality before doing so). In this instance, take care to minimize the risk of blockages by:

  • Fitting leaf-guards on the gutters
  • Selecting an over-sized sewer pipe
  • Installing several rodding points
  • Monitoring the system regularly

If There Are No Gutters

Some houses are built without gutters. In some instances, retrofitting is impossible. In that event, the solution is to dig a v-shaped trench directly beneath the eaves, lay a gently sloping perforated pipe in it, cover this with landscape fabric and fill over with a medium gravel chip.

The roof water will filter down into the pipe and flow to the lower end from where you can channel it away to an appropriate discharge point. If the landscape fabric clogs, it is a relatively straightforward matter to replace it.

Between them, the above solutions should keep rainwater away from your basement. If not then you have a more serious groundwater problem and may need to repair or install an exterior weeping tile system along the perimeter of your home. It is always best to consult a basement water-proofer first, to avoid tackling the problem from the wrong end.