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Improper Drainage

A good drainage system will easily circumvent flooding. Unfortunately, several factors can contribute to drainage issues. What can cause improper drainage to occur?

broken rusty gutter

Improper Drainage Causes

No homeowner wants to deal with the hassle that is a flooded basement or crawl space. All that water can ruin your stored belongings, damage your walls and floor, and create plenty of other problems. This is on top of all that water you will have to manually drain out yourself.

Of course, if your drainage system in your basement or crawl space worked properly, you would not have to worry about any of this at all. What causes improper drainage problems to occur? How can you fix improper drainage issues?

What to Look out For

Unfortunately, many homeowners will not be able to detect that something is wrong with their drainage system until their basement or crawl space floods. It is a good idea to keep an eye out for problem signs before they grow worse. What signs do you need to look out for?

  • Leaking 

The entire purpose of a drainage system is to ensure your basement or crawl space stays dry no matter how much water flows through it. If you find that your pipes or basement or crawl space walls are leaking, then you will immediately know that something is wrong with your drainage system.

These leaks should not be ignored. If you do not seek out what is causing these leaks in the first place, you will continue to deal with a flooded basement or crawl space and all the damage that comes with them.

Wet basement walls under window with wet floors
  • Fractures 

Leaks can be quite troublesome to patch up. Fractures or cracks along your basement or crawl space walls or floor are signs of far more serious issues you need to deal with as soon as you can.

Though cracks cannot be directly contributed by an improper drainage system, they are often a sign of structural issues within your foundation. Foundational issues can contribute to uneven floors, leaning infrastructure, flooding in your basement or crawl space, and even shifting your drainage system so it does not function properly.

Any size fracture can contribute to flooding. Even a hairline crack can cause flooding if you live in an especially damp climate. Cities with especially heavy snow and rainfall are more susceptible to water damage than drier climates, after all.

Causes of Improper Drainage

Identifying problem signs with your drainage system will help prevent matters from growing worse. Knowing what causes improper drainage, however, can be far more useful to you.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure 

Soil is very absorbent, and thus, likely to sop up plenty of rainwater or melted snow within it. Often, soil will try to absorb more water than it can handle.

The combined weight of the loose soil and heavy water can press up against your concrete foundation and your house. This is known as hydrostatic pressure. If the pressure is staggering enough, your foundation is likely to leak or fracture.

This shift in the foundation may also shift the pipes in your drainage system installed within your basement or crawl space. Misaligned or even clogged pipes can contribute to significant leaking during heavy rainfall.

The concrete itself may take in moisture through its pores. Water can become trapped in these small openings in the spring or summer then freeze in the colder months. This causes the water to expand into solid ice. The pressure from this sudden growth can cause the concrete to crack or move.

  • Clogged Pipes 

Your drainage system may not be installed properly if it tends to clog up with mud or other debris. The issue here lies with a faulty drainage system. Your drainage system should be able to drain away water with ease, not back up and flood your basement or crawl space.

You need a drainage system that is guaranteed to not clog up, no matter what debris might fall into it. The AquaStop BasementGutter™ or AquaStop YardWell™ systems, for instance, are guaranteed to be clog-free solutions you might want to try. 

  • Settling Foundation

Foundational issues are often at the root of many smaller issues around your home. Any small fracture found within your basement or crawl space is one of the more obvious signs of this. However, there are a few other subtler signs as well.

You might notice your windows or doors might not open as smoothly as they once did. They stick to the sill or doorway, making you exert more effort to open it.

This is likely due to settling foundations. After a huge storm, the soil your foundation is built upon may wash away. The loss of support can make your foundation settle and become uneven. This may then make your walls lean instead of standing straight. Your windowsills and doorways will also tilt and trap your windows and doors as a result.

Additionally, a settled foundation will also mean your drainage system might settle along with it. The pipes might bend or misalign in the process, resulting in a flooded basement or crawl space.

Unfortunately, most homeowners cannot detect a shift in their foundation on their own. You need to hire a foundation inspector to determine if this is the case with your home.

Common Causes of Foundation Problems

How to Fix Improper Drainage

Crew cutting BasementGutter during installation

Sometimes a drainage issue is caused by something as simple as a misaligned pipe. Straightening that pipe out again might fix the flooding issue initially. However, if the real issue lies in your foundation, then only realigning the pipes is a temporary solution at best.

Think about what causes this misalignment in the first place. Shifting foundations are not something the majority of homeowners are equipped to deal with. For foundational issues, you need to hire a foundation expert.

Experts can figure out where the true cause of your basement’s improper drainage lies. They can also offer permanent solutions to your drainage issues, like the AquaStop BasementGutter™ interior drainage system or AquaStop YardWell™ exterior outlet system.

Improper Drainage FAQs

There are two different types of drainage systems you can choose to install: interior and exterior. The main difference between these systems lies in where they take water from. As the names imply, the interior system helps with water from the inside, whereas the exterior system helps with water from the outside.

  • Interior Drainage System

The interior drainage system is installed under your basement’s floors and around the perimeter, or if you have a crawl space, the system is installed in the dirt floor. It’s called an interior drainage system because it helps remove water from the inside of your basement or crawl space.

With an interior drainage system, you’re more likely to have to move things away from the outside edges of the basement. However, it can also be extremely beneficial because it can ensure that you don’t deal with flooding.

  •  Exterior Drainage System

An exterior drainage system goes around the outside of your home, allowing it to drain water away from it. The main usage of an exterior drainage system is to avoid problems with hydrostatic pressure and general poor drainage.

With an exterior drainage system, you don’t have to worry as much about problems with your basement, crawl space, and foundation’s structural stability because you’re helping to alleviate the problems early on. However, you might run into issues if you regularly have water problems in the basement or crawl space.

  • Making the Right Choice

Do you need an interior system, an exterior system, or both? It’s hard to say. Because all homes are unique, you’re going to need to talk to an expert to find out what’s best for you.

There are also options you can choose to combine. For example, an interior French drain system like AquaStop BasementGutter™ or AquaStop CrawlDrain™ can be extremely effective in helping with interior flooding and hydrostatic pressure.

One of the best features of high-quality drainage systems is their discreet but effective installation. Experts can also adjust the system to fit your unique basement or crawl space situation. However, there are some potential problems that you might experience with either drainage system.

  • Potential Obstacles with an Interior System

One of the biggest issues with an interior basement drainage system is that it’s common to have to move things away from the edges of the basement. This allows the drainage system to function.

However, it’s also important to remember that you can still use most of these items with a very slight barrier around the walls. Don’t let this potential problem keep you from using this drainage system.

  • Potential Obstacles with an Exterior System

Exterior basement drainage is much more invasive than interior drainage. A crew will typically have to excavate the entirety of the area.

However, there are ways to install a typically exterior system without having to dig around your home. You just need to look into different options for your basement drainage overall.

  • The Argument for a Drainage System Despite Obstacles

Despite potential obstacles, it’s important to have an appropriate drainage system. These drainage systems can capture any water that tries to flood your basement or crawl space with ease. It then redirects the water to a quiet sump pump.

The installation of these systems only takes up to one to two days at most. They also come with a longtime warranty and troubleshooting services so you can be sure your basement or crawl space will stay dry for years.

It’s not a good idea to try and fix your drainage system on your own. If you do, you run into the potential problem of making things worse. Fixing your drainage system on your own is bound to be the wrong choice.

  • The Problems with DIY

Your basement or crawl space drainage system will typically be comprised of a complex network of pipes or outlets that most homeowners will not know how to navigate. Tampering with any part of this system yourself might only make matters worse.

At the end of the day, you just don’t know what you’re doing. This is the biggest problem with DIY. Just because you might be able to fix something doesn’t mean you should try to do it yourself.

  • Getting an Expert’s Help

Leave the drainage system repair to the experts. They will assess your existing drainage system and the surrounding foundation for any problems you might have missed. An expert will also have the right tools for any repairs your system or foundation might need as well.

Getting help from a Groundworks expert should be your first step. Request an inspection today to learn more about your options.

Hiring the Experts

Flooded basements or crawl spaces are an issue most homeowners hope to never encounter. Unfortunately, if your drainage system is not working properly, this may happen more often than you would like. This can be quite frustrating to deal with regularly.

Often, improper drainage can be attributed to clogging and hydrostatic pressure pressing against the pipes. Your foundation might also shift these pipes ever so slightly and cause them to leak.

All in all, it is best to leave any serious repairs to foundation experts.

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