The industry recognized rule-of-thumb for proper drainage away from a building through the landscaping is a minimum of a 5% to 10% slope away from the building, for at least ten feet from the building. This equates to a minimum of a six to 12 inch slope away from the building. Over time, the landscaping around a building will settle next to the foundation due to the freeze/thaw cycle of this climate. That makes this a continual maintenance issue that needs to be checked on a regular basis as needed. In most cases, improper landscaping or faulty gutters/downspouts are the reason for basements getting wet from ground water. The goal of proper landscaping is to direct ground/rain water away from the foundation.


The goal of gutters and downspouts is to direct ground/rain water away from the foundation. The gutters collect the water from the perimeter of the roof, channel it into a downspout, and the downspout directs the water away from the building in a controlled direction. The basic elements required for this to work are:

  • Keeping the gutters clear and properly pitched. If the gutter gets plugged or sloped in the wrong direction, rain can spill over the top of the gutter, causing the water to fall directly next to the foundation in high amounts.
  • Keeping the downspouts clear. If the downspout is plugged, the rain water can not be channeled through the downspout and will run over the top of the gutters. Also, if the downspouts are plugged over winter, they can freeze and burst at the seams. This will cause the rain water to spill out the back side of the downspout even if everything is unplugged, and cause excessive amounts of water to be spilled next to the foundation.
  • Maintain proper downspout extensions. The rule of thumb is to have downspout extensions long enough to dispense the rain water at least six feet away from the foundation. They also must be continually inspected to verify that they have not been disconnected from the downspout.

WINDOW WELLS – The bottom of the window well should have at least 12 inches of breaker (2” to 3”) rock at the bottom to act as a drain to drain sitting water down lower. This should be covered with an inch or two of small gravel to act as a filter to keep the “breaker rock drain” from plugging. The top of the small gravel should be at least 4” below the masonry window opening.

*All of the above information is trademarked and is the property of RESTORx. We feel it is the most current and accurate information available but we do not guarantee it be the only proper solution. Written by Stephen Gitz, CR, WLS, CMP

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