Standing water can ruin a property and pose serious issues to a community’s health. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitos, and can lead to structural issues for buildings on the property. There can also be issues for adjoining properties, which can in turn will draw the ire of neighbors and possibly result in increased litigation risks. If you’ve ever had a property that has issues with surface water drainage, then you know full well the damage and headache it can cause.
Water will always follow the path of least resistance. That means that any surface water that accumulates on your property will likely find its way into the bottom-most levels of any nearby structures. In structures with basements, water will begin to seep into the structural elements of the building before entering the interior. If the grading of the property was done incorrectly, for instance sloping toward any structure on the property, this problem will be exacerbated. That could lead to problems for any untreated wood within the structure, and that could lead to any number of structural failures.
Resolving Surface Water Issues
You can avoid these issues by properly grading your property, as well as installing a gutter system on any structures that reside on the property. The gutter system should include gutters along the roofline as well as downspouts leading away from the base of the structure and toward a lower elevation.
Proper surface drainage should begin with grading the affected area so that water collects and flows to a lower elevation away from the property. The grading should feature a slope that is one to two percent. It’s important not to build a slope that’s more than two percent, otherwise your property could begin to have erosion issues.
You can slope areas that are to be paved to move the water away from the property’s structures toward a street gutter or sewer. If the area is not paved, for instance a lawn or grassy area, you should build a swale through the area (be sure to stabilize the area with sod or rocks to avoid erosion) that collects the water and then moves it toward lower elevations. It may also be necessary to install a catch basin, drain and pipe to facilitate the drainage to a sewer system or other outlet.
Making Sure Its Done Right
Improper grading can lead to litigation should surface water drainage issues negatively affect nearby properties. Also, in some states, improper surface water drainage can run afoul of local or state groundwater regulations. This is an issue because in those states, groundwater is a critical part of water conservation efforts – it’s often collected and treated to be used for public landscaping or other non-essential, but critical use cases.
Trouble can be avoided by having your property inspected and adjusted for proper drainage and maintenance accessibility. You should plan to work with your builder and a civil engineer, geotechnical engineer or geologist to prevent water from affecting structures on your property. Property owners should also establish a fund to pay for regular maintenance of drainage systems.
At Helfrich-Associates, we work with property owners and builders to ensure that any issues with grading and drainage are avoided before they become a problem. If surface water drainage does become a problem, we also work with affected property owners to identify and resolve the issues that lead to the problem.
Have you been dealing with surface water drainage issues on your property? How has it affected your home or business? Let us know in the comments below.