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More info at: Intro to Landscape Drainage
Read on, and go to the subsequent link about French Drains. To me, the KEY is 1) 1/4" per foot slope (minimum) if you can, 2) the use of either Landscape Fabric or Filter Fabric (NOT weed block), 3) adding the gravel base, 4) getting the water as FAR AWAY from the house as possible.
As an aside, do you know where the water is coming from? Is it a matter of 'poor landscaping'? Is it from a neighbor's yard? Is it from missing/broken roof gutters? Is it from your downspouts? Seek out the cause and try 'simpler' solutions if you can.
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
Oh my, oh my, oh my. If my neighbor 'altered' the natural flow of runoff between our backyards, he would DEFINITELY have a problem.
First, I'd tell him about it. Then, I'd see if he would 'allow a way' that would permit the water to continue on its 'normal path'. Perhaps there's a particular 'low spot' where he could cut a path in his landscaping. If this fails, then I'd ask him to help with the work and costs to 'correct' the problem. (And you may need to dig a dry well and install a sump pump to fix this. Yes, it could be this drastic ESPECIALLY if your lot is as flat as you say AND you have a great distance over which the water would need to travel.) And if he's completely adverse to helping $$$-wise and work-wise w/the fix, I'd let him know that he's violated a 'building requirement'.
You see, at the time the homes were built, drainage issues were talked about. And the Builder had to landscape the yards so as to permit 'natural drainage' in order that he get his Building Permit. So, if a Homeowner has 'violated' that clause, they could be cited AND required to do one of the 'fixes' I've described, including ripping out his entire landscaping.
If you have pictures of what that 'area' looked like BEFORE he did his landscaping, they should be under armed guard because the Municipality Folks would want to see them. If you have pictures of what that area looks like after a rain storm, they too would be of interest to the Municipality. Those folks wont' do anything UNLESS they're 'asked' OR it causes them some 'harm'.
If I were you, then in the name of harmony, I'd see if I could convince the neighbor to 'break up' his landscaping in such a way that the water can continue on what USE to be its 'natural path' out of your yard. Seriously, once it gets to HIS yard, it's his problem BUT he can't do what he's doing to fix his problem. (I'm assuming that the reason he did what he did was because of the water.)
Well, I've said a lot. If you have more ?'s, you know where to write. My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
FWIW, my 'uphill' neighbor's water was running off his lot and onto mine. He didn't do anything to 'alter' its flow - I was a natural flow. So, I installed a drywell to 'collect' the water. Unfortunately, it does the job TOO well. In fact, the water gets SO saturated that it manages to work its way to one of my window wells, and sometimes into our basement.
Just this past summer, he was having (and since had) his home vinyl sided. I offered to GIVE him downspout extensions to help alleviate my water problem. I figured that if I could cut back on the amount of runoff onto my lot, my problem would go away. He told me he planned on moving the downspouts to the OTHER side of the house, and it wouldn't cost me a cent! (How lucky can I get.) The water off of his roof(s) was enough to put my 'under water' during heavy rains. Now, even when it rains hard, I no longer have my water problem! He is certainly within his rights to 'dump' his downspout water onto his lot and let Mother Nature 'guide' it to where it wants to go. He's not obligated to 'help me' fix my problem by moving his downspouts. I just lucked-out that he did what he did.
I hope you have the same luck and get a cooperating neighbor. Of course, don't threaten him. Just give him some options and EVERY opportunity to make the 'fix'. DO document in writing the dates of your conversations and 'suggestions' and his responses to what you said. Should it go to court (by HIM suing you), the Judge will have more to go by than he-said, he-said. You never know - You may piss him off enough that he'll take you to court to try and prove his 'point'. Then, you'll need a DOCUMENTED defense. This is why the pictures are SO valuable.
Again, let me know what happens, and if your problem is 'solved'. My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
1. French drain may not work as you are intending it to if it is just a "puddle" in an area. French drains are meant to collect and remove water along walls or foundations.
2. As Jay-J mentioned, a Drywell or Sump would be a good solution if done correctly and away from the foundation of the house.
3. Another is an area drain at the low spot. If you have your gutters connected to a city storm water system (as they are here in Portland...although we are being encouraged to disconnect them), you can tie the area drain into the storm water system...possibly. Check with local building codes and storm sewer regulation folks.
I would also recommend taking a subtle path with the neighbor. But, he has more than likely violated codes. It is illegal (in the areas I have worked) to alter not only the flow of water off your property, but also the historic flow of water onto your property. He cannot create a situation that causes undo hardship or maintainence problems on your property. If he has violated codes, xerox the applicable sections so if he starts baulking at fixing the problem, hand him a copy. Good Luck.
Eak! Fix the sump problem ASAP and don't count on the neighbor to do it. Even if he helps the problem to the point you are no longer getting water IN your basement, the effect it will have on your foundation could be disasterous over the next 10 years. You are still likely getting water up against your foundation. The purpose of a Drywall is to get the water down from the surface and give it time to infiltrate into the ground at a slower rate. Depending on your soil profile a sump may have solved the surface problem and created an even larger subsurface problem. This might be an occassion to find a professional...I am more worried about your problem than mind-restrictions.
[This message has been edited by antitrader (edited September 03, 2001).]