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Question DetailsAsked on 4/23/2014

I have dirt against exterior stucco wall that makes it smell musty. If I dig it away what goes in that space?

I have a must smelling studio in half of an old stand alone garage (100 yeas old) finished in stucco. Dirt from the yard goes right up to the wall. I have been told to dig it away from the side of the bldg but I don't know what to put in its place. Bldg is on old concrete pad, cracked in places, Mexican tile laid on top of that in studio section.

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You should have a minimum 4 inch and preferably 6 inches (12 inches in subterranean termite country) of exposed concrete/block foundation BELOW the stucco, as a moisture and bug gap. Will not totally stop bugs, but only a small percentage explore more than a couple of inches up a bare mineral surface unless they are being attracted by a specific smell.


You need to pull that dirt along the wall back, then ensure there is drainage from that area out away from the building - and ensure any roof runoff will be carried away from that area also, with gutters and downspout drain channels or ditching, so it does not seep through the wall and foundation.


This may require redressing the soil in that area for several feet width away from the foundation to ensure drainage away from the garage. If you cannot reasonably get drainage away from the garage from what would now be essentially a ditch along the foundation, or if the surrounding ground slopes towards the garage for some distance away, then you need to grade it to drain to the low end(s) and away from the garage and house, then line it with heavy plastic liner - like 20mil or heavier pond liner, not visqueen - folded tight up against the foundation and up above where water could ever back up, then across the bottom of the "ditch" and embed in the ground a few inches higher than the bottom into the dirt on the other side - so it forms a swale which is lower on the "away" side to let water flow into it, and higher on the garage side to prevent overflow, so it intercepts any surface water coming into that area, and drains any surface water away from there. Cover liner with an inch or so of gravel (better) or dirt to protect the plastic from damage and sunlight. Try to keep the low point of the ditch a foot or more away from the foundation and preferably 3 feet away - so slope away from foundation and pack dirt down to low point of ditch, line ditch, and grade to drain away from buildings. If you are ableto get 2-3 feet away from the garage on a downslope, then unless you arer in real free-draining ground like open sand or gravel, if you are not right up against the foundation you should not need the liner - just use clayey soil or topsoil or turn into lawn. Ideally, if you can slope away from building at least 1/4 inch per foot of run, and preferably 1 inch per foot for at least 3 feet from the building, so much the better - then put drain ditch to lower ground from there.


Make sure drainage does not cause gullying or drain right into neighbor's improvements where it leaves your ditch or slope.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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