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HOW TO BUILD A CUSTOM HOME, Part 15: Foundation Drainage Systems

In this series, the professionals at the B.O.L.D. Company will take you through the process of building a custom home in the Greater Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky area. From plan and lot selection, to mortgage approval, to the actual construction, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes each week for an inside look at a different part of the process.

This week, we look at foundation drainage system options:

The foundation drainage system is among the most important systems in your home. This system is responsible for removing water from around the foundation, protecting it and keeping the basement dry. If water is allowed to collect around the foundation, severe structural damage, as well as flooding of the basement, can occur.

There are several components of a foundation drainage system: (1) foundation drain tile, driven by gravity or sump pump; (2) gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks; and (3) yard grading and drainage channels. The correct installation and maintenance of each of these components is critical to the well-being of your foundation, and thus, your home and the investment it represents. This article addresses the first component, which is the next step after excavation.

After the foundation is excavated, and before the foundation walls are poured, the drainage system must be installed. Either before, or more typically, after the footings are poured (more about that next week!), the first component of the foundation drainage system, the drain tile, is installed by laying drain tile underneath the basement floor of the home, and also around the outside of where the foundation walls will sit. Drain tile, or PVC pipes with perforations that allow water to enter, will channel the water outside of and away from the foundation. Over and around the drain tile, pea gravel acts as a filter that allows water to seep through to the pipe, but prevents mud or silt from getting through and clogging the pipe.

Gravity-driven drainage systems use the power of gravity on a slope to draw water away from the foundation. The drain tile inside the excavated hole connects to pipes that channel and discharge the water in the yard at some point below the level of the foundation.

On a level lot, gravity-driven drainage is not practical. On these lots, a sump pump is part of the drainage system. Underneath the basement floor, a sump pit is dug several feet deep and several feet in diameter. The drain tile pipes will empty into this pit. While the basement floor will be poured to cover the drain tile in its trenches, the sump pit will NOT be covered; instead, it will have a removable lid that will allow maintenance and/or replacement of the pump it will house, as well as allow for cleaning of the pit itself. The sump pump will mechanically suction and discharge the water as it collects in the pit, driving it through piping out of the foundation and discharging the water into the yard away from the home.

With both types of drainage systems, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE DISCHARGE PIPE AND THE DISCHARGE OPENING REMAIN PROTECTED, INTACT, AND CLEAR THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE LIFE OF THE HOME. Mud that clogs the discharge end, or digging or heavy equipment that damage the pipe WILL result in the destruction of the system’s capacity to discharge water from the foundation, and, instead, the water will collect around the foundation, causing, over time, serious structural damage which will also lead to internal cosmetic damage, as well.

The B.O.L.D. Company is uniquely situated to help you through each and every step of the custom home building process, from financing and design/selections to construction and warranty service. We are available to build on your lot in Northern Kentucky, or let our licensed real estate agents help you find the perfect home site! Our in-house drafting and design team, together with our on-staff licensed Professional Engineer, can help you find or design the plan of your dreams! And of course, B.O.L.D. combines quality products and craftsmanship with unsurpassed customer service, so that the finished home is everything you expect and more. Find out why 400+ other new home customers have trusted The B.O.L.D. Company since 1986!

Builders Of Lifelong Dreams

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