Did you know that over 95% of water penetration problems into below-grade areas of homes are due to surface water that is not managed properly? Surface water is water that collects on the ground and does not come from below like a spring. Some of the most vulnerable areas around your home are around downspouts, window wells and steps.
It can take up to 30 years for backfill to settle all the way around a new home. During this time the grading should be addressed at least every five years and possibly more frequently.
Common Issues From Improper Grading
One of the most important and most overlooked issues for a home is the grading. Not having the proper grade around your home allows for water to snuggle up next to your foundation walls and travel down them. In some severe cases is will start to seep through the block. This will be noticed by efflorescence (white, puffy substance) on the wall or dark staining.
Once these issues are found they need to be corrected right away, otherwise it can continue and cause more problems. Moisture inside your home can cause mold, rot on wood components, and rust on metal items.
Along with moisture issues inside your home because of not have the proper grade, you will also have damp soil around your home which is a prime environment for wood destroying insects.
Tips To Fix The Problem
The grade around your home should be 6” or greater below your siding and 4” or greater below stucco or brick. This is where your grade should start and it should have a gentle slope of 6” in the first 10’ around your home.
The grading around a home is one of the most commonly commented issues in a home inspection. It is also one of the most easily corrected ones as well. Just adding dirt around the foundation of your home with a gentle slope to it will help fix the problem. You can accomplish this on your own if you have a wheelbarrow and a rake and a shovel. If you don’t have the tools or the time you could hire a landscaping contractor and it shouldn’t be a very expensive project.
However, if you live at the bottom of a hill or in a low lying area it will be a bit more complicated and challenging than just adding some dirt. You will need to gently slope your grade from the house into a swale to allow for water to run away from your home. Another option is to dig a ditch or moat (yes, a moat) around the house, approx. 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. After digging the ditch, fill it to within 1 inch of the top of the ditch with large washed gravel. This will act as a collection area for the surface water. If this sounds like a ton of work, then you’re right. It is. Save your back and you and your spouse’s emotional well-being by calling in a landscaper and getting an estimate. Check Angie’s List or Home Advisor for qualified contractors.
Even if your lot and house have a good grade around them now, that is great, but it’s a job that is never done. Vigilance with it is required. Tree roots and landscaping are constantly changing. With their constant change and growth they will continue to change the grading around your home.