How put drainage around your foundation

Updated February 21, 2017

Every year many homeowners around the world suffer expensive damage to their houses from flooding. Often wet basements and other flooding problems are due to inadequate drainage around a home's foundation. Signs of potential problems include a damp or musty smell in the basement, minor amounts of water puddling after prolonged storms and water stains on the foundation. Homeowners can prevent major damage to their homes by adding a drainage system around their houses.

Dig a trench around the outside foundation of the home with the backhoe. This trench needs to be as deep as the foundation level of For homes without a basement make the trench at least as deep as the foundation level. For homes with a basement make the trench at least as deep as half the ceiling height of the basement. This allows you to place drainage pipe below the soil frost line of the soil, where water is likely to flow all year long. For example if your basement ceiling is eight feet high, you should dig to a level of four feet.

For homes with a basement, dig a eight-foot hole, four-feet square 20 to 30 feet from the home for use as a French drain. Retain the top level of lawn to place over the drain when filled with gravel. For homes without a basement, a four-foot deep French drain is acceptable. Dig a trench from the trench you dug around the home's foundation to the French drain. This trench should be slightly deeper at the French drain end than it is at the foundation trench end to allow the water to run off quickly.

Place the corrugated perforated drainage pipe at the bottom of the trench at the foundation of the home, then route the drainage pipe through the trench which leads to the French drain. The end of the corrugated pipe will terminate slightly inside the French drain.

Fill the French drain, the runoff trench and the foundation trench with rough limestone gravel. The gravel itself should be approximately the size of golf balls in order to be effective at properly draining. The drainage pipe will be buried under the gravel. When the trench is filled with gravel, tap down the gravel to settle it in place, then cover the gravel with six to eight inches of soil.


On older homes with basements, apply a new layer of water sealer to the exterior walls of the foundation. This will further protect the home from water encroachment.


Use care when operating a powered backhoe. These pieces of equipment can easily damage the foundation of your home when used incorrectly.

Things You'll Need

  • Backhoe
  • Corrugated and perforated drainage pipe
  • Limestone gravel
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About the Author

Don Kress began writing professionally in 2006, specializing in automotive technology for various websites. An Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technician since 2003, he has worked as a painter and currently owns his own automotive service business in Georgia. Kress attended the University of Akron, Ohio, earning an associate degree in business management in 2000.