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Landscaping can send water into basement

After years of having a dry basement, you go downstairs to find wet carpet and puddles of water. There hasn’t been a downpour, and no pipes are leaking.

Next thing to investigate: the landscaping around your house. Adding a flower bed or patio, or gradual movement in the grading, may redirect the flow of water around your home and send it into your basement.

Before you look at the ground, look up – at your gutters. Clean them out if they’re full of leaves, sticks and debris. Then check your downspouts. Experts say these should be extend at least 10 feet from your home – 20 feet if you have room in your yard.

If you have drain tiles installed around your foundation, check and clean these out these as well. If they’re clogged or crushed, other landscaping updates won’t make a difference.

Walk around the foundation and check to see if the dirt is high enough. “Make sure surrounding soil is pitched away from the house at a slope of at least 1/4 inch per foot so that water drains toward your yard, not your foundation,” according to experts at “Simply add soil, raking it smooth, until the grade is highest at the house’s perimeter.”

Use clean, dense fill dirt for building up the area around the house – not topsoil. “Porous topsoil provides little resistance to water soaking into the ground around the foundation, which then infiltrates through cracks in basement walls,” according to Rytech Water Damage Specialists.

Moving flower beds away from the house may also help. That’s because they usually “comprise a large surface area of exposed, porous soil, readily absorbing water that then flows downward along the basement wall,” according to Rytech. “Edgings around flower beds also cause water to pool, increasing ground absorption and infiltration into the house.”

Mulch could also cause problems. Leave a 6-inch gap between your mulch and the siding, says Beechtree owner Scott Michel on Angie’s List.

“Don’t go closer than that because moisture can wick up from the mulch bed and rot the siding,” he says. “It can touch brick or block, but not siding.”

Your sprinkler system could be contributing to the problem. According experts at Mr. Rooter, if the system isn’t set correctly, “it could be sending water straight to your foundation without you knowing.”

Finally, take a look around your subdivision to see what’s changed. As housing areas get older, the landscaping can change from the original plan, Mr. Rooter says. The ground settles. Green spaces get paved and have water running across them rather than soaking into them. Systems may not handle water like designers expected, or they can be undersized and need a capacity upgrade.

AmeriSpec’s trained inspectors can take a look at your basement, yard, grading and foundation to help you pinpoint the cause of water seeping in. Call us at 402-393-3696 in Omaha or 402-483-2010 in Lincoln to schedule an inspection.

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