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Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 06, 2016 11:41AM
Not exactly a question for a tech forum, but MRForumites seem to have a broad knowledge base.

We recently bought a rental duplex. The place is two story and rectangular, on a fairly level lot, and doesn't have gutters, which we're not eager to add, since someone would have to go up two stories on a ladder to clean them. The house inspector advised adding slope next to one side of the late-1800's foundation to keep this stone foundation and basement drier. After adjusting the slope, our inclination is to lay down plastic covered with river rock about four feet out from the foundation, ending in edging.

Is the plastic a reasonable idea? Online, folks only talk about grading the dirt, but we don't want or need the grass and/or weeds to go all the way up against the house.

Comments?

.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: 3d
Date: June 06, 2016 11:55AM
Plastic + River Rock = stink.

No matter how careful you are at sloping and smoothing, it will eventually form pockets and divets naturally from erosion or wear and tear. Water and debris will get in the rocks and pool in the plastic causing mildew, mold, and a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Try 3-4 layers of landscaper fabric on the slope. Then river rock.

Oh,,, and be 100% sure you like the river rock look because for anyone who's ever tried to dispose of +1000lbs of river rock will know. It's not easy.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 06, 2016 12:02PM
We had water in the basement of our last house a few times (particularly after Hurricane Ivan went through). I called in a couple of waterproofers for estimates, which were predictably exorbitant and the work they proposed intrusive. The very simple and cost-effective solution turned out to be just what was recommended to you, beefing up the grading on the uphill side of the house. Most of the previous grading had washed away over the years, so water was just hitting the wall and going straight down to the floor of the (finished) basement, and from there into the house.

I had a yard of fill dirt brought in, and rented a Kanga mini-dozer to get the dirt moved from the yard to the right place in front of the house. Only wound up using about half the dirt (the rest I had to move to a wooded area in the back yard), but we were done in less than a day, and the basement stayed dry for the rest of the time we owned that house. I think the total cost, including the Kanga rental, was less than $250.

Disclaimer: if you choose to accept this mission, it helps a lot if you have a wife with the work ethic of an Amish farm girl...
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: jh
Date: June 06, 2016 12:29PM
If you are not using gutters then consider installing a french drain to move the water away from the foundation. Most important is to get water away from the foundation whatever method you use. Might want to check your roof where it meets the places where gutters would normally go to make sure all is well and no water or critter entry is available.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 06, 2016 12:30PM
Quote
Will Collier

Disclaimer: if you choose to accept this mission, it helps a lot if you have a wife with the work ethic of an Amish farm girl...

Fortunately, I think I do.

The other option that came to us with the house is a roll of roofing tar paper. On the plus side, it's free (to us), but I would guess it would have the same problem as plastic, but would also eventually break down. Right?
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 06, 2016 12:31PM
Quote
jh
If you are not using gutters then consider installing a french drain to move the water away from the foundation. Most important is to get water away from the foundation whatever method you use. Might want to check your roof where it meets the places where gutters would normally go to make sure all is well and no water or critter entry is available.

What's a French drain? Remember, I'm a happily married man.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: jh
Date: June 06, 2016 12:34PM
Quote
pdq
Quote
jh
If you are not using gutters then consider installing a french drain to move the water away from the foundation. Most important is to get water away from the foundation whatever method you use. Might want to check your roof where it meets the places where gutters would normally go to make sure all is well and no water or critter entry is available.

What's a French drain? Remember, I'm a happily married man.

Here ya go.

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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 06, 2016 01:11PM
Quote
pdq
Quote
Will Collier

Disclaimer: if you choose to accept this mission, it helps a lot if you have a wife with the work ethic of an Amish farm girl...

Fortunately, I think I do.

The other option that came to us with the house is a roll of roofing tar paper. On the plus side, it's free (to us), but I would guess it would have the same problem as plastic, but would also eventually break down. Right?

Yeah, I would think so. I'm hardly an expert in drainage, but in this case I can't see how that could hurt. Maybe sandwich a layer of the plastic between layers of fill dirt when you're putting in the grading.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Speedy
Date: June 06, 2016 01:24PM
26 years ago we did exactly what you are proposing to do (substituting 2.25 inch clean crushed granite for your river rock; our city is nicknamed "Granite City" and we paid $10 for the load of rock which we picked up in a trailer which made for easy spreading around the house, simply dragging the rock off the trailer and directly placed with a flat shovel). It has worked out just great! The plastic has developed small holes from the crushed rock but most of the water runs away from the house. It also keeps the siding clean from splashed up dirt. No mold and any puddling lasts at most only a day or so before it evaporates (the plastic is black). I did slope it away from the house as much as I could without having the plastic quite butt upwards against the siding, leaving perhaps a half inch gap.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/06/2016 01:29PM by Speedy.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: billb
Date: June 06, 2016 01:49PM
Pollen, dust and dirt accumulates on top of landscape fabric eventually providing a medium for weeds to grow in.
It will look good for a year, maybe two and then you will rue the day you put it down .


Unless you live up north in snow country and snow sliding offf the roof is important consideration, I'd put gutters and downspouts and gutter guards. My sister has these on her raised ranch and they work fairly well. [www.homedepot.com] Or something like them. Unfortunately when she had her roof done the roofer guys put them all on backwards and I had to go turn them around so they would stay in on a windy day.



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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: 3d
Date: June 06, 2016 02:37PM
Quote
billb
Pollen, dust and dirt accumulates on top of landscape fabric eventually providing a medium for weeds to grow in.
It will look good for a year, maybe two and then you will rue the day you put it down .

A few minutes with a leaf blower on high at the end of the season will get most of the dirt outta there from between the river rocks on top of the sloped landscaper fabric. Now if it was mulch on top of the sloped fabric, that's another story. A few shots of RoundUp will take care of anything after that.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Acer
Date: June 06, 2016 02:54PM
Just sloped dirt will solve most of the water problem; it did for us. Keeping it from washing away and beautifying it is trickier, for the reasons above. We just elected for lawn grass right up to the foundation wall and a periodic pass with the weed wacker.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 06, 2016 02:56PM
Quote
Speedy
26 years ago we did exactly what you are proposing to do (substituting 2.25 inch clean crushed granite for your river rock; our city is nicknamed "Granite City" and we paid $10 for the load of rock which we picked up in a trailer which made for easy spreading around the house, simply dragging the rock off the trailer and directly placed with a flat shovel). It has worked out just great! The plastic has developed small holes from the crushed rock but most of the water runs away from the house. It also keeps the siding clean from splashed up dirt. No mold and any puddling lasts at most only a day or so before it evaporates (the plastic is black). I did slope it away from the house as much as I could without having the plastic quite butt upwards against the siding, leaving perhaps a half inch gap.

Speedy - I didn't know St C was known as Granite City! I hate shoveling rock (hurts the wrists), so I sprung for as bunch of bagged river rock from Menards on sale, but it sounds like you had a much better deal.

So you don't find it stinky? And regarding the plastic, I was half considering caulking/silicone-ing one edge to the foundation...
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Speedy
Date: June 06, 2016 04:28PM
Quote
pdq
Quote
Speedy
26 years ago we did exactly what you are proposing to do (substituting 2.25 inch clean crushed granite for your river rock; our city is nicknamed "Granite City" and we paid $10 for the load of rock which we picked up in a trailer which made for easy spreading around the house, simply dragging the rock off the trailer and directly placed with a flat shovel). It has worked out just great! The plastic has developed small holes from the crushed rock but most of the water runs away from the house. It also keeps the siding clean from splashed up dirt. No mold and any puddling lasts at most only a day or so before it evaporates (the plastic is black). I did slope it away from the house as much as I could without having the plastic quite butt upwards against the siding, leaving perhaps a half inch gap.

Speedy - I didn't know St C was known as Granite City! I hate shoveling rock (hurts the wrists), so I sprung for as bunch of bagged river rock from Menards on sale, but it sounds like you had a much better deal.

So you don't find it stinky? And regarding the plastic, I was half considering caulking/silicone-ing one edge to the foundation...

I don't remember the mil of the plastic but I doubled it up and then some. The edge against the house is pointing upward toward the siding but only about a half an inch. The water runs off the siding and onto the plastic, not between the plastic and the cement block. We have very sandy soil. Through the years the plastic has developed lots of tiny holes because of the crushed rock and people walking on it but the water still tends to run away from the house. So if you curl it up a bit where it meets the house, no need to caulk which won't want to stick to the plastic. The rock will easily hold the plastic where you place it. I also used some 4" plastic edging where the plastic meets the lawn simply to maintain an edge.

Putting in the edging was the hardest part of the job. Shoveling was easy because the wooden bed of the trailer let the shovel slide under the rock easily. I just needed to lift, pivot from my shoulders, not my back, and drop the shovel-full (I was on the ground; also I was only 40 years old). The trailer had removable sides so my reach was minimal. It was a heavy duty tandem axle trailer (truck and trailer provided and driven by my father) and went across the quarry scale at 8,000+ pounds net weight. The quarry had a flat rate of $10 per towed trailer (good public relations because the quarry is within the urban area) so I got a really good price on the rock, probably 1/3 of what a contractor at the time would have paid per ton in a 12 yard dump truck. Putting the rock first on the edge next to the lawn kept the plastic in place. I covered the plastic only to a depth of one or two rocks. The various coloring of the granite lets any exposed plastic blend unnoticeably.

Be sure you build up your slope as high as you can next to your house because it sucks to peel back the plastic later to add fill. Our house was new construction and the excavator's haphazard backfilling against the blocks kept settling through the years. Even a quarter century later there is still a spot that I have to periodically add fill. You won't have that problem.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/06/2016 04:30PM by Speedy.
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 06, 2016 10:19PM
Thanks for the detail, Speedy!
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: June 06, 2016 10:56PM
We put Leafguard gutters on our old house and never once had to clean gutters in 15 years. It took care of all of our drainage issues too. They were also very tolerant of ice and snow.

More expensive but totally worth it: [www.leafguard.com]



“Live your life, love your life, don’t regret…live, learn and move forward positively.” – CR Johnson
Loving life in Lake Tahoe, CA
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Re: Questions re doing slope work around foundation
Posted by: Manlove
Date: June 07, 2016 11:57AM
Put in a french drain as outlined above, and forget about it.
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