Signs of drainage problems and how to fix them

If you notice a sudden pooling of water in your garden – and a waterfall coming from the gutters – it could be a sign of a drainage problem. The key is to catch it before it becomes a major foundational issue.

Here’s how to find and fix some common drainage issues:

The problem: Overflowing gutters

The solution: Clear out debris blocking the water flow. Many times, the blockage is due to fallen leaves  and can be remedied with an easy DIY gutter cleaning. If that’s not the case, the problem may be due to undersized gutter or improperly pitched gutters. This may require a professional fix — like replacing and/or reinstalling the gutters.

The problem: Water stains in the basement

The solution: Discoloration on foundational walls is usually due to surface water from an overflowing gutter, which you can remedy by following the steps outlined above. If the stain extends around the perimeter of the basement, it may be a sign of a fluctuating water table. An interior drain system and sump pump can help. Check out these tips for drying out your basement.

The problem: Mildew in the attic

The solution: Bathroom fans sending hot air up to the attic or rising moisture from the basement or crawl space can cause mildew in the attic. You can fix this mildew issue with proper ventilation. Start by relocating the bathroom fans to vent through outside walls or the roof. If that solution doesn’t work, find the source of dampness from the basement. Work quickly; if you wait too long to find the source of moisture, it can cause enough damage to need roof sheathing and shingle replacement.

The problem: Pooling water on the front walkway

The solution: Sidewalks typically act as dams, which is why the water pools around them. To avoid water retention, remove a portion of the sidewalk, and replace it with stepping stones that allow water to flow through easily. Another option is installing a catch basin, which is a surface drain that can hold the water.

The problem: Downspout issues

The solution: If your downspouts dump out too much water, it can put dangerous pressure on the foundation of your home or even allow the water to seep into the basement. Add gutter extensions so the water falls farther away from the house, and align the downspouts for water to hit optimal areas of the yard.

The problem: Wet spots on the lawn

The solution: To prevent these soggy patches, install a rain garden or French drain system. These options allow water to flow through engineered soil or gravel instead of pooling in the natural soil and grass. Other alternatives include creating a small pond or building a dry well as effective holding tanks for the water.

The problem: Cracks in the foundation

The solution: If you notice cracks, take note of their width. Some cracks are normal as the house settles. However, if they grow to be wider than one inch, it could be a sign of a drainage problem. You can try patching cracks with hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk, but if they continue widening, you’ll need to call a structural engineer to assess the damage.

The problem: Multiple clogged or sluggish drains inside

The solution: Follow these drain repair tips to unclog the blockage. If that’s not working, or if you begin to smell stagnant sewer smells from the drains, call a plumbing professional to check out your system.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs or replacements.