The Importance of Proper Grading
Where your home sits on your property, in conjunction with the slope of the land around it – is a hugely important factor in keeping your home (and basement) dry.
If the land around your house is graded incorrectly from the get-go – or if it’s settled over time – excessive amounts of rain water and ground water that can collect in the soil around your basement walls.
How Do I Know if My Land is Graded Properly?
If the land around your house is improperly sloped, flat, or angles towards your home, then it does not have the proper grade. The general rule of thumb is that the ground sloping away from your home should do so at a ratio of one inch per foot. Some issues typically encountered are:
Incorrectly installed landscaping
Foundation beds should follow the original grade of site and NOT slope toward the house.
The soil used to back-fill around foundations can start to settle over the years. As it does, the original grading can flatten or even begin to slope toward the foundation.
Wind and water can cause soil erosion, also resulting in flat or negative grades.
If the land around your house is improperly sloped, flat, or angles towards your home, then it does not have the proper grade.
How Can I Fix the Grade Around My House?
Fortunately, this is typically an easy issue to both diagnose and remedy, and it’s not difficult to check the grade around your house. All you’ll need a level and a flat, straight piece of thin plywood or metal that won’t sag. Here’s what you do:
1. Remove any decorative mulch or rocks that are next to the house and lay down the piece of wood or metal on the ground next to the house (you want to take the measurement on bare ground, as water flows right through rock or mulch).
2. Place the level on the wood or metal, perpendicular to the house. Raise the lower end of the level until the bubble centers on the indicator.
3.Measure the height between the end of the level furthest from the house and the ground. This will tell you how many inches of drop there is from the house.
“Foundation beds should follow the original grade of site and NOT slope toward the house.”
As we mentioned previously, the ground surrounding your house needs to slope away from the house for several feet at a grade of at least 1 inch per foot. As an example, if you’re using a 3-foot level, there should be a 3-inch difference between the two ends of the level. This may not really seem like all that much but, trust us, it is!
If you come up with anything less than an inch of drop per foot, you’ll need to fix the grade around your house. This can be as simple as filling in a few small depressions, BUT it can also call for much more extensive work. If it’s just a few depressions or low sports that need to be taken care of, you can fill them yourself if you have enough soil.
Now, when we say “enough soil”, that will typically mean more than a few bags of dirt from the Menards. Your best bet would be to call a landscaping supply house and order a delivery of clean fill. Once the dirt is delivered, you’ll need to shovel it into the holes until they’re slightly more than full. If rain is expected in the near future, simply leave the filled holes alone. If no precipitation is expected, water them down. Either way, you’ll need to check on them in a few days and, if the holes are still lower than the surrounding ground, add more fill. More extensive work will probably require some earth-moving equipment (at a minimum), which means you may need to consult with an excavation contractor or a landscape company that does grading.
Now, if there’s pavement – such as a sidewalk, patio, or driveway – right next to your house, it also has to slope correctly. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to correct the grade, which may mean replacing the pavement altogether, mud-jacking it back into proper position, or adding another layer of pavement next to the house to reverse the slope.
Regardless of the method you choose to fix the grade around your home, just remember – it will be worth it! Trust us, the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about water seeping into your basement due to poor dirt work around your house is huge. Want more information? Don’t hesitate to give us a call! J-Tech Construction in Lincoln, Nebraska, is here to help.
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