With a record setting wet summer in lower Michigan, we are getting more calls than ever about drainage problems. Often, drainage is overlooked in the final phases of building a structure. If the pitch on your property is not away from your house, any foundation issues will be exposed as soon as there is a heavy rain.
If you want to be proactive, you should consider burying your downspouts, installing pop-up emitters, and perimeter drainage solutions like French drains, and catch basins. Each of these items minimize surface water by moving rainwater generated by rood-runoff, and water in low areas into underground drainage systems.
In many areas, the general contractor is not required to bury downspouts. We see problems with larger homes that don’t have their downspouts buried because the larger the roof, the more the volume of water that is generated in a rainfall. Water is lazy. It simply goes to the point of least resistance. If your grade is off a tiny bit, this can mean water coming in the basement. If you have many neighbors, it can mean a very wet property line.
I suggest burying your downspouts and running them as far as you need to to get to a lower spot than your foundation. You will need to measure each line from your downspout to the low area, and purchase enough 4″ flexible pipe from any hardware store, a downspout adapter for each connection, and a pop-up emitter for water exiting the drain system.
A swale is a fancy, builder-term for a vegetated ditch. When your house is built, in order for the builder to get approval to sell you your new home, he has to get a “C of O” or Certificate of Occupancy. Your property must have certain things in order for the city or township to allow you to safely live there. Obvious things like running water and sewage are part of the formula for getting your C of O. Depending on how particular your township or village is, the depth of the requirements for drainage can make or break achievement of your certificate. For the most part, the inspector makes sure that water flows AWAY from your foundation. That is it. You are left with your downspouts and any other excess water issues to deal with on your own.
If you have a good builder, they will advise you of draining the water that your house produces (sump), and the runoff from the roof. Many times they will build in a swale along your property line. These work in theory, but they leave you with a wet, grassy ditch that you will have to walk through every week when you cut the grass, or drive through and leave ruts with your riding mower. (See below)
Even with a swale, you still should install a french drain to keep the surface water underground.
If you have drainage questions or issues, give us a ring and one of our drainage experts can come out and assess the situation. 734-337-3261 Salient Landscaping