We’re slowly getting settled into the basement. Even after a few weeks, we still have a lot of stuff strewn about upstairs that we’re working on moving, putting into boxes, or outright getting rid of. Sarah’s been on an IKEA kick, loading up our humble abode with storage, since we’re completely lacking in the closet department. It’s starting to feel like home, though it definitely feels like a basement. Meanwhile, we’re thinking about next steps. After all, the whole point of moving into the basement is to get the rest of the project done. The next major step is second floor demo. We want to get that done before winter hits, mostly so that we can work inside all winter. However, we have to finish the aforementioned moving and clearing before that happens. We’ve also decided we need to make our drainage project happen sooner rather than later.

The drainage project was something we were planning to do in the landscaping phase, but the rainy weather has underscored that we need to control the flow of water into our basement. Essentially, it’s a just-below-grade weeping system that will wrap around the front and side of our house. The reason this was slated for the landscaping phase is that the goal is to drain this into a rain garden/water feature in the back yard. However, right now our back yard is mostly patio and we plan to keep it that way so we can bring in the parade of dumpsters and trucks that will get this project done. Instead, we’ll drain into our canceled catch basin for the time being and redirect it later. Our catch basin is filled with gravel, but it can still hold a couple-few hundred gallons of water, keep it away from the house, and drain into subsoil, all of which are critical to our basement staying dry.

The plan is to dig up the cracked and crumbling sidewalk along the side of the house, dig a trench that slopes to the center about a foot deep, and put down a plastic landscaping barrier that’s caulked to both our house and the neighbors. We’ll put perforated pipe in the bottom and backfill with stone. Lastly we’ll put in paver step stones in place of the sidewalk. As I said, the pipe will drain to the catch basin in the back yard for the time being and eventually drain to a water feature. We’ll put in connections so that when we redo the roof and gutters, the downspouts can drain into the system as well.

The drainage will eventually continue across the front of the house, minus the pavers, since we’re putting a new front porch over it. Ideally we’d have a proper exterior weeping system, which is a drainage pipe around the outside of the foundation at the bottom of the basement wall. Unfortunately, we’re very close to our neighbors. The North side of our house literally sits on the property line and both sides are between 3-4 feet away from the houses next door. Excavating down to the bottom of the 120-year-old brick wall risks not only our own structure, but the neighbors as well. The drainage project we’re doing is basically a compromise because the pipe won’t be below the frost line. If it got cold enough, especially after a snowmelt or heavy rain, it’s possible for the whole thing to freeze up. That said we believe it will keep the vast majority of water away from our foundation and out of our basement.

The dumpster is on order, and the project kicks off in a couple days. We need to get everything dug out in a week so that the dumpster can go back on time, but after the basement dig out, I’m not too worried about that. Once that’s done we need to get the barrier and pipe installed, then get some pea gravel delivered. Finally, we need to pick out some pavers. That’s the fun part.

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2 Responses to Thinking About Drainage

  1. Jon says:

    This isn’t draining into the sewer? You’re going to need a very large water feature to hold all that. When it seeps back into the ground, isn’t it going to permeate right to the foundation, keeping the water table around your house high for a prolonged period after rain?

    This rainwater calc might help:
    http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-howmuchrain.html

  2. Matt says:

    My plan is to have a high water overflow drain to the sewer to prevent it from exceeding the intended size, but a water feature with surrounding rain garden can handle and absorb a lot of water.

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