Building Drainage: Dos and Don'ts

A drain.

Drainage is an essential element of good home design. If you need to replace the building drainage in your home, you should plan the venture out before taking out your hammer or saw. Here a few dos and don'ts to consider in a drainage system.

Do Clean Gutters

Keep your gutters and drain pipes clean and free from leaves, trash, and debris. Gutters should be cleaned roughly once a season. Each season can bring different potential blocking agents to your gutters, such as leaves in the fall. If there are frequent storms where you live, you may want to clean the gutters more often.

You can clean gutters yourself using a ladder, gloves, and a bucket, or hire a professional to do the job. If you clean the gutters yourself, you may want to enlist a friend or family member to help speed things up, or just to make sure the ladder is steady.

Do Check Gutter Guards

If you have gutter guards, check them when you clean the gutters and make sure they aren't damaged. Gutter guards protect gutters, but can't do their job properly if they're bent or rusted through in some spots.

gutter guard blocking fall leaves and seeds

Do Prevent Water Buildup

Gutters should prevent water from entering a building from the roof, but for gutters to be effective, your whole drainage system needs to be maintained. One way to prevent water build-up is with gravel. Place gravel along the house's footers to prevent water buildup, and you'll limit the likelihood of seepage back into the crawlspace or basement. Make sure the gravel is tightly packed, and replenish it every year.

Do Use Elbows

“L” shaped elbows allow water to drain from the roof gutter outward, away from the house, usually changing the direction of a downspout at the bottom. The "L" can literally be seen on the gutter, redirecting away from the house. To use an elbow, cut a downspout a few feet away from the entrance to the storm drain, then measure at least two feet from the ground and cut. You can then attach the elbow to the downspout. Make sure it's facing away from the house.

Don't Forget to Clean

Make sure to clean gutters and drains a few times a year, not only when problems emerge. Dealing with gutter-related problems can be costly, but simply cleaning them regularly can prevent most issues.

gravel and screen at the foot of a wall for drainage

Don't Forget to Pack the Footers

Pack gravel into the footers along the base of the house—this will prevent water from coming into your crawlspace or basement. Forgetting to do so can lead to water buildup. Don't use sand or soil as this can soak up the water and get quite heavy. It will also settle over time.

Don't Drain Toward Footers

Make sure your gutter drainage pipes are positioned in a way to drain directly downward away from the footer area along the base of your house. This will move water away from the house and not toward it.

By following these simple dos and don'ts, you can create a drainage system that works for your home and keep it running smoothly for a long time. This will prevent dreaded basement or crawlspace flooding and make your life a bit simpler.