It’s 6:30 on a Tuesday morning and your alarm rudely declares the beginning of the day. You reluctantly reach from your personal cocoon, relieve the alarm from its morning duty, and swing your feet out to meet the floor. Suddenly, a shock is sent through every inch of your body as your brain processes the unfamiliar sensation of cold water underfoot. Perhaps you assume that the wet sensation is simply a dog accident or spilled milk from a toddler who snuck into your room during the night. But each step you take is met with the disheartening smack of bare feet on a wet floor. You suspect a leaking toilet or busted water line is the culprit, but your path to the bathroom actually becomes drier with each step. You retrace your steps back to bed and realize water is seeping in through the outer bedroom wall. Panic immediately seizes your mind.
What in the world is going on?
Who can you call?
How can it be fixed?
How much will it cost?
Drainage solutions must be functional, but that doesn't mean they can't be attractive.
What in the world is going on? Drainage Problems.
Drainage issues are one of the most overlooked aspects of property development and landscaping (especially in residential applications). According to NDS (a drainage component manufacturer):
To be honest, I'm not sure where NDS sourced that stat. However, in all my years in landscaping and in the thousands of houses I have visited, the stated percentage is remarkably close to what I've seen. The reasons for drainage problems are endless and I could easily write a series of blog posts detailing many of them. With that said, drainage problems that lead to water in your house as described above are generally caused by not addressing run-off from your roof, having an improperly sloped yard (negative slope), or building up the soil and mulch too high against the foundation of your house. Regardless of the reason, you need to address how much water is allowed to stand next to your house and provide an adequate solution to move the water away from the house as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Who can you call? Everyone Knows a "Guy."
Water damage is one of the most-dreaded and expensive problems you may encounter with your house. Repairing walls and floors damaged by water can easily exceed thousands of dollars. A friend of a friend is generally not the best option when trying to properly correct a water problem at your house...but drainage solutions are simple, right? Making matters more difficult, drainage solutions are generally very industry-specific (commercial vs. residential, foundation type, surface vs. subsurface water, etc.), and you will be hard-pressed to find a dedicated "drainage company." For that reason, drainage solutions have become the domain of many landscape companies. Landscapers are already digging in people's yard routinely and sticking a little bit of 4" corrugated pipe on the end of a downspout is simple enough. However, beyond extending downspouts (which is still important), drainage solutions can be remarkably complex with several factors requiring consideration (soil type, slope, impervious surface area, local codes, water volume, flow rates, etc.). With so many factors involved, you can quickly waste a considerable amount of time and money chasing the wrong solution.
How can it be fixed? Drainage Solutions.
Determining the proper drainage solution for your particular situation is where years of experience and education is vital to long-term success. Experience will encourage full and proper site analysis to ensure all contributing factors are considered. Continuing education will ensure the latest technologies are utilized where applicable. Referring back to the introductory example, foundation water problems can generally be corrected by re-grading the property to correct existing soil levels and slopes, installing downspout extensions and catch basins to eliminate excessive roof run-off or installing French drains to capture surface and/or subsurface water over larger areas.
How much will it cost? The (hopefully not) Million Dollar Question.
The cost to resolve drainage problems can be as little as a $10 downspout extension or considerably more than a new car (depending on your taste of course). The cost will always be relative to the size of the problem you are trying to fix (or prevent). The only guarantee I can provide is that addressing drainage issues before they cause damage is always less expensive than paying for a drainage solution along with house repairs.
Written by Jason Hanna, Director of Client Services, BB Barns Landscape.
BB Barns Landscape provides full-service landscape design, installation, and maintenance in Asheville, NC and the surrounding areas in Western NC.