Question:

How do I know if I have to grade my yard to prevent leaks?

Assessing your yard's grade

It's sad, but true. A lot of yards don't make the grade when it comes to keeping water out of your basement. Improper grading around the house is one of the leading causes of basement leaks. This problem can be corrected, though, be advised that it is usually not a do-it-yourself type project. Anyway, here's what you can do to help the situation.

• See how severe the problem is. Do you see depressions that could be filled easily, or are you looking at a major regrading?
• If small depressions are your only problem, order fill dirt (unless you have some available on your property) and fill them in. You can probably get your fill at a local construction site, local nursery, or landscaping supply house. After the dirt has settled, check back in a few days (preferably after a rain). If you still see depressions, add more fill.
• If your yard requires more extensive work, it's time to consult with an excavation contractor or a landscaper with grading experience. Your job may require the operation of heavy equipment or the installation of foundation drains and other projects beyond the ability of most home owners.
• Discuss options with the contractor. Make sure you discuss the impact of the work on your property, such as tree removal or damage to shrubs and other landscaping. Be aware that this kind of work will probably cause considerable damage; allow room in your budget for seeding, sod and plantings.
• Make a contract with the contractor.

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Jerry Mayo