Drainage around home rated top concern

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John J. Woodard III

John J. Woodard III

By John J. Woodard III

COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA — With so many important responsibilities for a homeowner, drainage ranks as one of the most crucial, as it strikes at the very core of your home — its foundation. For the vast majority of us, the following advice will do.

You should, at a MINIMUM, have four inches of fall within six feet of your building perimeter. This fall must be created and maintained with DIRT.

NOT Mulch, NOT Potting Soil, but DIRT.


I personally even like clay dirt the best, although your flowers might not. This dirt should be well packed and not loose. All dirt and grading around your house should visibly lead away from the house. While you have the shovel out, fill and pack anyplace in your yard where you see water pooling during and after a rainstorm.

This water (unless far from your house) needs to go — preferably to a ditch! Lastly, for the vast majority of us, is gutters. The biggest cause of water build up around your home is rainwater from your roof. It both destroys the grading around the home, making water pool, but also saturates the ground around your house with water. Not only should you have gutters, but homeowners should also have those ugly black SOLID pipes, NOT the perforated ones sold right next to them at Lowe’s.

These pipes should extend from your gutter downspouts 10-plus feet away from your home and to a point where the water will run away. Water pooling six feet or less from your home can move sideways under your home especially in heavy clay environments. This is a proven fact. To see for yourself, dig a hole in your yard two feet deep after a long period of rain, and watch it fill from the sides.

More severe drainage problems unfortunately require more drastic measures. The biggest is a French Drain. These, however, get used literally as a catchall, as I have seen so many times the gutters directed into them. Your gutters should NEVER, EVER be directed into your French Drain as the rainwater from the roof can easily overflow the drain and cause the water to spill into your foundation area. This could literally make your problem 10 times worse than before.

There is also now more increased focus on side yard drainage ditches. Some jurisdictions are even making this mandatory for new construction. For anyone thinking they may have a complex problem, my best advice is to talk to several experts. Do not take the word of just one! Have all discuss a testing solution, and a guarantee for any solution they may propose.

Editor’s note: A regular advertiser in this newspaper, Woodard Construction is owned by the son of Nor’eastern News reporter, John Woodard Jr.