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foundation drainage

Faulty Foundation Drainage

Poor foundation drainage may seem like a small issue, but it really is a Pandora’s Box for a property and can affect every aspect of a property very quickly.

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The health and well-being of your property, and the quality of the environment in your basement, rely on your property’s foundation drainage. Poor foundation drainage can be a direct contributor to many forms of damage, both structural and cosmetic, around your home. You see, while all properties are built to withstand moisture, especially homes in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, there is a limit to what they can take. 

Proper foundation drainage is instrumental in protecting a home from issues like sinking, flooding, and general dampness (as well as all the issues that this can cause). This is particularly important in temperate and humid areas like Ohio, where the summers can be warm and humid, while the winters remain cold and wet. Acting quickly when you feel that you may have problems with drainage is important. The right experts can make all the difference. 

Why Worry About Poor Foundation Drainage? 

Your property’s foundation is the single most important part of the whole structure. Your home depends on it being strong and healthy. While poor drainage around your foundation may not seem like the worst possible issue, it is, in fact, one of the most damaging problems that you can have. This is because of the ways that water and excessive saturation can undermine and damage concrete, stone, and wooden structures alike. 

Poor foundation drainage contributes directly to a number of problems, including: 

Wood Rot 

Wooden support beams, drywall panels, and wood furnishings are all susceptible to water damage and rot as a result of persistent dampness. When wood rot takes root in a support beam, wall panel, or piece of furniture, it will start to lose its structural integrity. This can lead to the wood literally crumbling away, but it also makes it susceptible to many other problems. 

When the wood in question is a structural support (for example, a floor joist), it can lead to sagging, deformation, and eventual collapse. Rotting wood also has a unique and unpleasant odor that will quickly spread throughout your whole home. 

Mold and Mildew 

Mold and mildew go hand-in-hand with issues like dampness and wood rot. In fact, some kinds of mold actually grow best in or on rotting wood and drywall panels. As well as being a strong sign of dampness and thoroughly unpleasant, mold and mildew can be actively damaging to your home and your health. 

Certain species of mold will eat away at any wood, fabric, or drywall that it makes a home in. This will speed the process of deterioration significantly. Furthermore, there are some species of mold that can cause or exacerbate skin conditions, respiratory problems, migraines, throat conditions, and even cause lightheadedness and fainting. 

Pest Infestation 

Properties that are damp, mold-ridden, and subject to wood rot are far more likely to experience issues with pest infestation of all kinds. Of course, the most common pest infestations in and around Ohio are spider, wasp, and rodent infestations, each of which can be concerning, unhygienic, and unpleasant in a number of ways. 

While many spiders are not dangerous to you or your home, wasp or rodent infestations can be serious. As well as being unhygienic, wasps pose the risk of injury and allergic reactions, especially to younger children. Likewise, a rodent infestation can lead to damage to your property’s plumbing and electrical systems, as well as general health issues. 

Bowing Basement Walls 

The excessively strong hydrostatic pressure that’s caused by poor foundation drainage and perimeter saturation can lead to many problems. The most serious one that could form as a result of hydrostatic pressure and poor foundation drainage is bowing basement walls. Bowing walls are caused by strong lateral pressure and can lead to severe issues around your home. 

A wall that has started to deviate from its intended placement will only become more damaged over time. It will not stabilize or rectify itself. If left unattended, these walls will start to impact the floor above them and even collapse entirely over time. As such, it is important to step in as soon as you notice a bulge or lean. 

Most of these issues are linked in some way to general dampness in and around a property. Dampness is one of the most common side effects of poor foundation drainage and perimeter saturation around a home. 

The Most Common Causes of Poor Foundation Drainage 

Every property is designed with certain foundation drainage systems in place, but these systems are not always appropriate or adequate. They can also become clogged, damaged, or overwhelmed over time if certain parts of your property’s waterproofing systems become less effective, or as the climate and soil around your home change. 

The issues most likely to contribute to or cause poor foundation drainage in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, are: 

Expansive Soils 

Expansive soils are incredibly destructive and absorbent. Heavily clay or peat-based, these soils are not overwhelmingly common in Ohio, but they are present in some areas (particularly near rivers and underground water sources). A property set on expansive soils may be subject to more movement, less effective drainage, and more pressure. 

Expansive soils can impact foundation drainage in a number of ways. First and foremost, they will absorb any water they come into direct contact with. This causes them to expand and can lead to your foundation sinking, settling, or cracking. This will make foundation drainage worse around your property by letting water seep into your home. 

Soil Erosion and Washout 

The soil around your property, as you may have noticed, is incredibly important to the health of your home. Soil erosion and washout are incredibly damaging to both the soil and any properties that are placed upon it. The process of washout or erosion strips the topsoil from an area and will result in the foundation of a property being exposed over time. 

When this happens, there are many potential repercussions, but the most worrying is the potential for foundation flooding. An exposed foundation is vulnerable to saturation, freeze/thaw cycles, and every other kind of damage the world can throw at it. This is a huge problem. Furthermore, these processes cause damage to the soil itself over time. Reversing this will be incredibly difficult. 

Foundation Damage/Cracks 

While poor foundation drainage often causes foundation damage and cracks, damage to your foundation can also cause inefficient drainage. This is because of how it allows water to seep into your home from many different locations and sources. This contributes to an air of persistent damage and prevents your foundation from draining properly. 

Over time, this will exacerbate issues both inside and underneath your property. The eventual result could be general subsidence in your property that results in the need for major structural repairs to your home. 

Poorly Placed or Maintained Outflow 

Even the best drainage systems will fall at the last hurdle if the outflow lines and systems are poorly placed, damaged, or otherwise not up to the task. Damaged outflow lines will, of course, let water leak back into your property and contribute to generally high humidity in your home. 

Outflow lines that terminate too early are very common but seldom discussed. Short discharge or outflow lines essentially cause a cycle of foundation flooding and perimeter saturation by dumping water that has been removed from your home directly outside of the property’s perimeter. For the best effect, outflow systems should direct water toward more robust street-level drainage systems to ensure water is fully removed from the property. 

Blockages and Clogs 

Blockages and clogs can bring even the most robust drainage systems to a standstill over time. This can occur because of debris making its way into the drainage systems, or even because of gradual sediment buildup. Whatever the likely cause, blockages and clogs can have very serious consequences for your home. 

A property that has a blocked or clogged foundation drainage system is likely to see issues with repetitive flooding, persistent dampness, mold formation, mildew spread, and structural damage as a result of wood rot. Thankfully, clogs and blockages are fairly easy to fix. 

Malfunctioning or Damaged Sump Pump 

The sump pump is often the first and last line of defense against flooding in a property. When a property’s sump pump fails, malfunctions, or becomes inefficient, foundation flooding is almost guaranteed. This is one of the most common and worrying causes of poor foundation drainage in Ohio. 

You can recognize sump pump issues by the sounds that your sump pump makes, as well as by signs of dampness and flooding around your basement and home. 

Whatever the cause of poor foundation drainage or foundation flooding, it is important that you act quickly to prevent the issues from snowballing. Intervening at the first signs of dampness and damage could save you huge amounts of money, time, and stress in the long run. Of course, it would be better by far to prevent the issues in the first place. 

Poor Foundation Drainage


Sticking doors and windows can stem from various causes, including: 

Contact Ohio Basement Authority for a free inspection for accurate diagnosis and repair. 

There are many ways that you, as a homeowner, can address poor foundation drainage around your property. 

Maintenance and Cleaning 

Maintaining and cleaning the foundation drainage systems around your property is all-important when it comes to protecting your home. If you notice that your basement is a little damp or moist during rainstorms, or you see water pooling by your foundation, taking the time to clean and inspect your property’s drainage systems can really make all the difference. 

Incorporating drain and gutter maintenance into your yearly winter preparation tasks can help keep your foundation drainage from worsening, even when the system is damaged or unsuitable for the needs of the property. Of course, there are some cases where it is better to invest in repair and replacement. 

Repair and Replacement 

If your foundation drainage measures have become incredibly damaged, or the state of your property has changed and they are no longer suitable, it is best to intervene quickly. If your gutters and drains show no signs of damage, but you are still noticing run-off and overspill, it may be time to upgrade your drainage options. 

If you are able to spot particular areas of damage and deterioration, however, you should repair the affected drainage systems quickly. If you notice your sump pump is making a strange noise, for example, or there are puddles of water around your perimeter drains, calling a professional to assess the situation and implement repairs is the best option. 

If your home is being affected by poor foundation drainage, it can be tempting to try to take matters into your own hands. However, we recommend that you avoid DIY at all costs. 

Do Not Try DIY 

The problem with trying a DIY approach to an issue like foundation drainage is that non-professionals very rarely have the skills, tools, and equipment to properly assess the damage. This means you can often start off on the wrong foot and fail to even truly understand what is causing the problems in your foundation drainage system. 

If you try to implement repairs based on a faulty or flawed understanding of the issues at work around your home, you could inevitably choose the wrong solution. This could render your repairs ineffective but could also cause further damage. If this happens, the overall cost of your repairs will increase dramatically. That makes it best to leave it to someone in the know. 

Professionals Have the Best Solutions 

When you hire a professional to undertake repairs, you can rest assured that you will get an efficient, high-quality solution that addresses the underlying cause of damage, as well as the visible symptoms. A professional who assesses your property’s foundation drainage systems will be far more likely to identify all contributing factors, for example. 

As such, you can be sure that you will get a solution that is effective, long-lasting, and durable. These are things you just cannot be sure of when it comes to DIY work. While professional repair services may seem costly at first, they are actually far more cost-effective, especially when you consider the fact they tend to be one-off procedures. 

3 Great Ways to Protect Your Foundation Drainage Systems 

Preventing damage, blockage, or deterioration in your foundation drainage systems is incredibly important if you want to maintain the health of your property as a whole. Of course, there are some issues that are unavoidable. Every appliance has a lifespan, after which it will become less efficient. 

Nonetheless, taking these three tips on board can make a huge difference and prolong the life of your foundation drainage systems (and appliances) by years. 

Complete Seasonal Cleaning Tasks 

Seasonal cleaning, preparation, and maintenance tasks are incredibly important to the health of your property and drainage systems. As well as clearing your yard and roof of leaves at the end of fall, for example, you should also clear debris and sediment from your roof gutters and ground-level drainage systems. This will ensure that your external systems are able to deal with water at peak capacity. 

Likewise, you should take the time to inspect and clear out your property sump pit at regular intervals. This will ensure that water that makes its way into your home is quickly and effectively removed. Interior perimeter drains should not be subject to huge amounts of sediment buildup, but it still pays to check them where possible

Schedule Regular Maintenance Appointments 

While we understand that it can seem like a pain, ensuring that you keep up with your maintenance appointments and schedule is one of the best things that you can do to protect your home. Keeping up to date with sump pump maintenance, for example, seriously decreases the chances of you experiencing a sudden and total breakdown. 

Likewise, regular and proper maintenance can help you to anticipate issues before they come to a head. A seasoned technician, for example, will be able to tell you when your foundation drainage systems are starting to become overwhelmed. They can also help you to plan for their eventual breakdown before you find your home flooded. 

Invest in Extended Downspouts and Outflow Lines 

When dealing with foundation drainage (or any form of drainage for that matter), small investments and modifications can make a world of difference. Taking the time to install extended downspouts, for example, can prevent extreme foundation saturation and ease the stress on your internal foundation drainage systems. 

Making sure that your outflow lines and spouts are the correct lengths is a small alteration that can have a hugely beneficial impact on your home. Investing in extensions for your outflow lines can even help with managing perimeter saturation. 

These three simple steps will go a long way toward preventing avoidable foundation flooding and saturation, thereby relieving the stress on your foundation drainage and keeping your property healthy and happy for longer. If you do notice signs of dampness, saturation, or flooding, however, it is time to contact a professional for help. 

Ohio Basement Authority Deals with Poor Drainage 

If you have noticed signs of dampness, perimeter saturation, flooding, or generally poor foundation drainage around your home, you can reach out to Ohio Basement Authority. We are one of the most reputable foundation and basement repair specialists in the state of Ohio. Our team knows all the tricks of the trade when it comes to protecting a home from poor foundation drainage. 

Better still, we offer free inspection appointments without obligation to all homeowners in our service area. This means you have nothing to lose by calling us for advice, even if your home’s foundation drainage systems turn out to be entirely healthy. If our team does find problems, they will provide you with a written estimate for all their suggested repairs that day. This means that you can take all the time you need to make an informed decision on what is best for your home. 

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