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The Signs of Poor Yard Drainage

1. Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters are a tell-tale sign of problems to come. Clogs force water that should be draining down the downspouts to flood over the edge of the gutter and pool too close to the foundation – potentially ruining sliding and paint in the process. Clogged gutters are obvious in a downpour; other signs include streaks of dirt on the outside of gutters, mud spattered on the siding, and paint peeling off the house in vertical strips.

Properly cleaning your gutters and checking for the appropriate pitch will fix any potential siding and paint damage. To avoid the water from the drain spouts pooling too close to the foundation, invest in downspout extensions or troughs to shunt water away from the foundations and farther into the yard.

2. Water Infiltration

Water usually comes into a home in one of three ways: over the foundation, through a crack in the foundation, or from under the floor.

Water or water stains running from the top of the foundation wall where no cracks are present typically indicate that water is coming over the foundation due to high grading or overflowing gutters. This can be fixed by unclogging and adjusting the gutters, regrading the yard, or installing a yard drainage system.

As poured concrete cures, it can shrink up to 3/4 of an inch per 100 feet, which can create vertical shrinkage cracks in the foundation. When the soil around your foundation gets saturated and doesn’t have anywhere else to drain, these shrinkage cracks can leak. Leaking shrinkage cracks can usually be fixed by a professional waterproofing company for $300-$500.

Water seeping in from between the floor and the wall is a good indication of a high water table underneath your basement. As the soil around your basement becomes saturated with rain and run off, hydrostatic pressure pushes water up through the floor. Interior drainage systems and sump pumps will help alleviate hydrostatic pressure and help shuttle water out of the basement and away from the foundation.

3. Efflorescence

Mineral-rich moisture that is seeping into the basement will sometimes reveal itself with a condition called efflorescence - a white or gray crust of mineral deposits that cakes onto foundation walls as water evaporates. Though efflorescence doesn’t pose a threat in and of itself, it can signal bigger problems down the road. Check for soggy soil around your foundation and thoroughly check the basement for cracks that may be wet or discolored from moisture.

4. Mildew

Mildew at the top of your home may indeed equal problems at the foundation of your home. Warm air that rises into the attic and condenses on the underside of the roof can lead to mildew. While mildew can be due to something as simple as warm up rising into the attic without the proper ventilation, the culprit can also be too much moisture in the basement or crawlspace. If allowed to go unchecked, this can cause problems with the roof later on.

5. Puddles and Yard Erosion

Check your yard after a hard, or long and steady rain. Often, yard erosion leaves signs such as mulch that’s been carried away from flower beds, gullies caused by gushing water, and mud on the sidewalk and driveway. If the mulch or gullies travel towards your foundation, it’s time for new landscaping.

Also check the soil height against the foundation when it rains, making sure that soil doesn’t get carried away when it rains and water drains quickly away. Water that pools up against foundation or pools in the yard when it rains is the most obvious sign of poor drainage – and should be addressed right away. Saturated yards can create a tremendous amount of pressure of the foundation of your home, causing cracking, leaks, and even shifting foundation. Having a landscaper or waterproofer build up soil berms or install exterior drainage system to shunt water away from the foundation is more affordable than most home owners realize.

6. Warped Wood and Bowing Floors

Too much moisture in your home can cause wood flooring and framing to warp. Bowing floors and popped flooring are often caused by water in the crawlspace or movement in the foundation.

7. A Wet Crawlspace

Water or puddles in your crawlspace should be addressed immediately. Not only do wet crawlspaces provide a haven for insects and pests, but water sitting in your foundation provides an avenue for mildew, mold, poor indoor air quality, and can compromise the integrity of the wood framing, the flooring, and the roof.

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