Maintaining proper drainage, especially around the perimeter of your foundation, is one of the simplest yet most cost-effective ways of preventing foundation damage. Prioritize installing proper drainage systems in your property. Poor drainage, if not resolved early, could lead to structural damage, which is much more expensive and complicated to repair.

Request a drainage inspection.

water in drainage

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Signs of Drainage Problem

The following are typical indicators of water intrusion:


You'll find this on concrete or block walls.

This white, chalky substance is in itself harmless, but because it indicates the presence of excessive moisture, you should not take it lightly. Water intrusion, in the long run, may eventually cause your home's concrete or block walls to crumble.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Due to poor drainage resulting in the presence of excessive moisture, the soil around your foundation can become heavier. This increases the pressure exerted by the soil on your foundation walls and this, in turn, can cause your foundation walls to bulge, lean or crack.

Frost Heaving

The moisture trapped in the soil around your foundation, if not drained off properly, can freeze and turn to ice crystals during winter. These ice crystals exert additional pressure on your foundation and its members. Your foundation walls can bulge, lean or crack in result.


Excess moisture in the soil around your foundation can cause the soil to sink, therefore causing your foundation to settle. Foundation settlement, in turn, causes cracks in the walls of your foundation, sloping floors and doors/windows that stick or are misaligned.

Drainage Solutions

One or more of the following may be installed to improve drainage and prevent long-term foundation damage:


Installation of a Sump Pump

A sump pump is installed to pump water out of the basement, crawlspaces and other areas where long-term water pooling can cause the most structural damage. This may be the homeowner's first line of defense against water accumulation around the foundation.

Sump pumps come in two basic types: upright (also commonly called the pedestal sump pump) and submersible.

Upright pump: The upright model's motor is on top while the pump mechanism is found at the base, which sits at the bottom of the sump. A ball float turns the pump on and off. In this type of pump, the motor should not get wet.

Submersible pump: The submersible sump pump model is designed to be entirely submersible and sit at the bottom of the sump. The on/off switch can be either a ball float connected to an internal pressure switch or a sealed, adjustable, mercury-activated float switch. The sealed, mercury switch is generally more reliable than the pressure switch.

Things to check on your sump pump:

  • Make sure the sump pump has a check valve on the water outlet pipe so water that has been pumped out will not flow back into the sump when the pump shuts off. Water flowing back into the sump from the discharge pipe will cause the pump to be activated more frequently than necessary, and this can cause the pump to wear out faster.
  • Make sure the pump is the right size for your drainage needs to prevent the pump from short-cycling, which can lead to premature pump failure.


Grading is the process of contouring the ground (i.e. making sure it's sufficiently sloped) to ensure that water is channeled away from the building, particularly from the building's foundation.

Installation of Simple Drainage Devices

To ensure that water will not pool around the foundation, drainage devices like gutters, downspouts, catch basins, area drains, and/or trench drains may have to be installed.

Improvement or Repositioning of Existing Drainage Devices

Gutters and downspouts that empty water onto or very near the foundation have to be corrected or repositioned so they can take water farther away from the foundation.

Installation of a French Drain

French drains attract, collect and divert underground water away from areas which could be damaged by water accumulation and excessive moisture. They are usually built around the exterior wall of the foundation. French drains are also used behind retaining walls to relieve ground water pressure.

The following are the typical steps of French Drain construction:

  1. A strategically placed trench is excavated.
  2. A "Soil Separator" fabric is laid out. This prevents soil accumulation that can lead to drain clogging.
  3. A 3"-4" PVC perforated pipe is precisely placed on a bed of gravel at the center of the trench.
  4. The trench is filled with gravel until the pipe is surrounded by a " gravel layer.
  5. The Soil Separator Fabric is wrapped around the gravel.
  6. The trench is filled with soil.
  7. The trench is covered and finished.

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french drain trench excavationfrench drain trench excavation
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french drain soil separator fabricfrench drain soil separator fabric
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french drain pipe over gravelfrench drain pipe over gravel
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french drain gravel layer over drainage pipefrench drain gravel layer over drainage pipe
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french drain soil compactedfrench drain soil compacted
french drain backfilledfrench drain backfilled
french drain covered with soilfrench drain covered with soil
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french drain compactedfrench drain compacted
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Concrete Repair Institute

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Customer Satisfaction Award
2014, 2012, 2011

"Sinai Construction redefines professionalism in the Los Angeles construction business! Of all the construction companies I've called to evaluate the repairs needed for our home's foundation, only Sinai Construction took the time to inspect the actual foundations, take pictures, make a detailed report and explain to me not just the repairs needed to be done but what caused the damage in the first place."

Esther A., Echo Park

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