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Question DetailsAsked on 3/2/2015

There is water from the driveway leaking under my house.

Water is seeping through the dirt that goes under the wood deck and into the crawl space at the front door. I have installed a French drain, but the gravel on the driveway graded toward the house keeps washing toward the deck and the water follows. The moisture is keeping my entire home moist all year. Gutters cannot solve the problem since this is happening on the gabeled end. Can't figure out how to divert the water away from my home.

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3 Answers



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Answered 4 years ago by Member Services


Sounds like your french drain is either not intercepting the water fully, or failing to carry it away from the area. General ways to solve this problem:

1) reslope drive near house to provide a surface swale (possibly impervious lined if your natural soil is permeable) to intercept and carry the runoff away from the house - typically at least 3 and preferably 5-10 feet from foundation

2) reslope the ground from foundation to typically at least 3-5 feet away from it (and preferably 10 feet) so it slopes noticeably (2-4% minimum, 10% or more preferred), using either an impervious liner under the top fill (like topsoil or garden soil or river rock or whatever, depending on use of area) or a 4-6 inch or so thick impervious compacted fill, so the water drains away from house and cannot reach it - and of course some way for water in that area to then drain away from the area. On the sloped fill from the foundation - keep the top level at least 4 inches below top of foundation AND from the bottom of siding for rainfall water and insect control - more like 12-24 inches preferred in termite/carpenter ant areas.

3) put in french drain or slot drain to intercept the water and carry it away to a location away from the house. If gravel and fines migrates down the drive, then to prevent it from blocking the drain you may need to go with a wide gravel-filled trench feeding the drain pipe, put in a swale (think Arizona dip) across the drive maybe 5-10 feet from the house to carry the majority of the water away before it gets near the french drain (which can then handle the remnant), or even pave the final section to provide an inpervious swale with ramp up to foundation or a curb to prevent the water from getting close to the foundation.

4) pave and curb the drive, with deliberate regrading to move the collected water away from the house near the bottom of the hill

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


I previously answered your question, but below is another more detailed response I did to someone today about driveway water getting into the garage and front door - mostly a repeat, but might be of use to you -

Can't really give an answer that would mean much to a particular case, sight unseen. But, generally cheaper to put in specific drainage devices or measure than to regrade the entire driveway, especially if the street is higher than the house already. Cost can run from maybe $500 range in the simplest cases on up to several thousand in the nastier "house-in-a-hole" cases.

Driveway excavation (without the repaving) could run from about a bare minimum of $5-10/CY (cubic yard) in easy digging good subgrade and rough ballpark $5/SF plus or minus for resurfacing with concrete or asphalt, up to as much as $50-100/CY for hard bedrock excavation. If looking at a driveway reconfiguration that would need a slope and layout survey and plan, and possibly a curb cut relocation (moving where drive meets street) which a Civil Engineer who does site development planning can best do.

Normally, your better bet is to put in a swale, maybe by itself or with an open-top type slot drain culvert just in front of the garage, changing the slope locally there so the first couple of feet in front of the doors slopes away from the house to the drain, and of course it would also intercept water coming down the drive to the garage and door. Obviously, a swale by itself is only feasible if it can reasonably lead to a lower elevation away from the house to drain without dumping water into a neighbor's yard and causing problems there, whereas a slot drain or such can be placed in a trench to go underground to a lower elevation place, though that can be a problem in areas with deep frost penetration.

In extreme cases, depending on slopes and soil type, if drainage to a lower surfgace elevation is not feasible, such a drain can go to a drywell (in free-draining soil with no high water table so it drops into the ground) or wetwell with sump pump (for impervious soil or high water table areas) to drain into. In that sort of case it is usually better to put a diagonal swale or raised "speed bump" in the driveway at some place near to the house (to catch as much water as possible) and divert it safely to the side before it gets to the house - again if grade is such that works to divert most of the driveway water off to a location where it will not drain back to the house.

In some cases it is necessary to extend (paying attention to utility locations) a swale from the end of the cross-drive swale or bump through the adjacent yard to divert the flow around the house. I have worked a couple of jobs where the house was in such a low spot that it was actually necessary to block the yard and drive runoff with a berm all the way around the house about 6-10 feet away from it, so the house was actually inside a reverse moat - with the drive going up over the berm and all mass runoff (including roof gutter runoff) being kept away from the house by the berm, with only minor rainfall and snowmelt filtering down into the ground right near the house.

When doing this sort of thing you need to be careful about vehicle orientation entering the garage, because making the slope from garage door to drive can tilt a vehicle up enough that a high SUV or pickup will no longer fit under the garage door header as it enters the garage. The need to keep the swale or depression in front of the garage door gentle is another reason why using a swale or speed bump across the drive to catch most of the runoff BEFORE it gets to the house is a good idea.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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