How to Prevent Basement Water – Part 2


How to Prevent Basement Water – Part 2


If regrading methods do NOT solve your drainage problem, you may need to construct an underground drainage system, or replace your existing foundation drain tile, depending on your specific problems. In the past, foundation drain tile was made of clay pipe, which may have cracked or deteriated over time. This could be a factor in Basement Intrusion Water, usually in conjunction with a crack in your foundation.

If your problem is not Basement Intrusion Water, but standing water in a certain area of your yard, then an underground drainage system will usually solve your problem.

See my Post:   How to Eliminate Standing Water in Your Yard


Foundation drainage drain tile piping is typically 4″ diameter, round, rigid PVC piping, in 10 ft. lengths. This is NOT what is usually used for standing water in your Yard.

Corrugated (ABS) drain tile is usually used for all other drainage systems. It is also 4″ in diameter, and comes in coils of flexible piping, in lengths that vary from 100 ft. to 3000 ft.

See my Post:   How to Eliminate Standing Water in the Yard   for using this corrugated (ABS) drain tile.

Both types of drain tile are perforated (has holes) to allow water a point of entry, and is immersed in a bed of stone, which facilitates drainage. Stone type varies, but 3/4″ washed (clean) gravel promotes the best water flow. Never use pea gravel or compacted stone, as these will impede drainage due to the lack of space between the stones.

If you are installing or replacing foundation drainage drain tile piping, it may be advantageous to have your foundation waterproofed at this time. You will already have the foundation exposed, so this would be the perfect time to have this project done. It is best to have a professional perform this work, in order to guarantee that it is done correctly. It is NOT a project that you are ever likely to do again, nor would you want to due to a faulty installation.

Also, you should really take stock of this project before you begin to do this on your own. Digging a trench may not initially sound like that big of a deal, until you realize that it will need to be about 24” wide in order for you to comfortably work with the drain tile, 4’ – 6’ deep, depending on the type of basement that you have, and will extend around the entire perimeter of your home. This is a very time consuming and back breaking undertaking. Make sure that you have several assistants that you can fully count on.

Once all of the soil is removed and the drain tile installed, you will need to put all of the soil back in the trench, packing it down as you go. It will probably be best to get some professional quotes to see how much money you will be saving, by doing the digging yourself. If you have a lot of plantings to remove, this may be enough of a project in itself.

You can find Basement Water Specialists by clicking on any of the following Links:




How to Install Foundation Drain Tile


Materials & Supplies Needed:

  • 4″ diameter, round, Rigid PVC Piping, in 10 ft. lengths (number of pipes determined by your home’s perimeter)
  • 4” diameter PVC Sleeves (amount equal to the number of pipes you will use)
  • (3) 90 degree, 4” diameter PVC Elbows
  • (2) 4” Rubber Sleeves for connecting new PVC Pipe to any existing Clay Pipe
  • (4) 1” x 2” x 24” Stakes or (1) 1” x 2” x 8’ (which you will cut into four pieces)
  • Landscape Cloth or Filter Fabric to cover all of the Pipe
  • 3/4″ Washed (Clean) Gravel (amount needed determined by the perimeter footage)

See my Post:   Formulas for Calculating Amounts of Materials Needed   to calculate amount of Gravel needed.

Purchase PVC Piping & Fittings at:

Purchase Stakes at:

Purchase Landscape Fabric at:

Purchase 3/4″ Washed (Clean) Gravel at:


Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • Work Gloves
  • Long-Handled Digging Shovel
  • Pick Axe
  • Tarps (number and size dependent on your needs)
  • 100’ Measuring Tape
  • Snap-String or Nylon String
  • Line level
  • 4’ Level
  • Saw (Hand Saw or Skill Saw)
  • Hacksaw
  • PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Hand Tamper
  • Pieces of Cardboard (to be used between tamper and ground to prevent soil sticking to the tamper)
  • Stanley Knife with new Blade
  • PVC Cleaner
  • PVC Cement (glue)
  • 8” – 12” long scrap piece of 2” x 4”
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Caulk Gun
  • Water-proof Silicone Caulk

Purchase Tools & Supplies at:



Step-by-Step Instructions


If you are determined to tackle this project, here are the Steps for completion:


Step 1 – Create a Materials & Supplies Needed Sheet

Click the following Link to see my page:   Steps Common to All Projects   for completing Steps 1 thru 4. When those (4) Steps have been completed, return here and begin with Step 5.

You will need to measure the perimeter of your home in order to complete these (4) Steps. You should also consult my post:   Formulas for Calculating Amounts of Materials Needed   for assistance in calculating the amount of gravel which will be needed.


Step 2 – Calculate Project Cost


Step 3 – Order Your Materials & Tools Needed


Step 4 – Inspect Your Delivery


Step 5 – Contact Your Local Utility Locating Service

Before you dig, you should contact your Local Utility Locating Service in order to have all of your utility lines marked:  electric, gas, water, sewer, phone, and cable. Knowing where any and all of these lines are located is crucial in providing you with a safe digging project. When you schedule them to come out, make sure that you tell them that you will need an approximate depth of each utility also, because you have a rather deep excavating project to perform.

Once all of the lines have been marked, you should take pictures of where these lines are all located, including any reference landmarks that you can incorporate into the pictures, so you will know exactly where they are located for any future projects that you may do. File these pictures in a place that you will remember and have easy access to in the future. You can make any notations that are needed in order to identify their location and depth as well, and keep these notes with your pictures. You may also want to include emergency contact numbers for each, just in case.

If your digging will cross any of the lines which have been located, you will need to proceed with caution until you find the line. Then, slowly work around it, being careful NOT to damage it in any way.


Step 6 – Remove All Plants Within 6’ of Your Foundation

You will need ample room to install your drain tile and stack removed soil – 2’ wide for your trench and 4’ wide to stack your removed soil (This will allow you to stack soil about 2’ high.), for a total area of 6’ wide from your foundation. You will need to remove all plants in this 6′ area and store them for future reinstallation.

Thoroughly water all plants within 6’ of your foundation, 24 hours before you begin this project in order to get the plants as strong as possible before removal (NOT necessary for any plants that you do NOT intend to save). After the 24 hour period has expired, carefully dig out all plants that you intend to save and transplant when the project is done, within 6’ of your foundation in order to allow for a 2’ trench and a 4’ area to pile the removed soil. Move them to a shaded area if possible, or cover the root balls with a light colored tarp to help prevent drying out. You will need to water the root balls every other day until the plants are replanted, and a thorough watering when they are planted.

This is a major undertaking, especially if you have a lot of plants to remove. It is best to have several strong back assistants to help you with this project. You will need a clear area of approximately 6’ from your foundation in order to complete this work – 2’ for your trench, and 4’ to place the soil that you will be removing.

Put on your work gloves, and using your long-handled pointed digging shovel, carefully dig up any plants that you intend to save and replant within the 6’ area from your foundation. Place them in a shaded area or cover their root balls with light colored tarps to help prevent them from drying out while they are waiting to be replanted.


Step 7 – Dig Trench Next to the Foundation

Once all of the plants have been removed, cut tarps into 4’ wide strips and place them end to end, at 2’ – 6’ away from your foundation. If it is windy, you should place bricks or rocks on each tarp to prevent movement. Begin digging a trench next to your home that is approximately 24” wide and extends down to the footing or foundation bottom, keeping in mind the needed pitch for the area in which you are digging. Place all of the removed soil on your tarps. (The trench will need to be about this wide in order to allow you to work down at the bottom.)

Once your tarps are in place, begin digging your trench, placing the removed soil onto your tarps. You will want to keep your black dirt topsoil in separate piles from your clay soil base. Once you begin seeing that your black dirt topsoil has been removed, and clay soil appears, take a depth measurement and make a mental note of this. It will be important when returning the soil to the trench, since there will be soil left over.

Continue digging around the perimeter of your home until the trench is complete. The depth of your trench will need to be approximately 2” below the bottom of your foundation at the corner closest to your sump pump, with a pitch of about 1” for every 10’ going upward to the corner furthest away from your sump pump. This will incorporate (2) walls of your foundation.

In other words, if when looking at your House from the front, if your sump pump is closer to the front of your home than the back, and is located on the right side, your back left corner will be the highest point of pitch. So your trench will be 1” less deep for every 10’ away from your sump pump until you reach the furthest corner away from your sump pump, going both clockwise and counter-clockwise around your home. If your home is say, 40’ long, and 25’ wide, the back left corner will be 6 1/2” higher than the corner near your sump pump. Dig your trench accordingly. This pitch is critical to allow for proper drainage.


Step 8 – Remove Any Existing Clay Drain Tile & Check Foundation for Cracks

Once the trench has been fully dug, remove any exiting clay drain tile and dispose of. This is also the time to completely inspect your foundation for any cracks, and repair and water-proof as needed.

Clay pipe that extends under concrete can usually be left in place. Cut the clay pipe with a hacksaw, about 6” away from where it enters the concrete, in order to allow you to attach your rubber sleeve, which will also be attached to your new PVC drain tile.

At this time, you should also fully inspect your entire foundation for any cracks. Repair any found and water-proof the foundation as needed. There are concrete water-proof silicone caulks on the market which will be beneficial. Follow the instructions on the tube. You can also have your entire foundation water-proofed by a professional, if you so desire. See my Links at the beginning of this post.

Step 9 – Cut Your (4) Stakes, Install, and Attach String Line

Cut your 1” x 2” x 8’ into (4) equal pieces and bevel one end of each stake to a point. Pound a stake into each corner of your home’s foundation, approximately 6” deep, and about 6” away from your foundation.

Next, tie your string line between all stakes. Using your line level, level all string lines approximately 6” above your base at the highest point (This will place your line several inches higher at the sump pump corner).


Step 10 – Create the Proper Pitch for Drainage

Now it is time to fine-tune your depth and pitch.

Measure the distance of your 1st wall from the closest corner to your sump pump to one of the adjoining corners. Check the height of your base at this adjoining corner by measuring the distance from your base to the string line, making sure that it is 1” higher for every 10’ of measurement. If it is NOT, make any corrections necessary. Then, go back and check the height every 10’ to make sure that the pitch is regular at 1” elevation every 10’. Adjust the ground as needed.

Repeat the process for the other adjoining corner. Then, repeat the process for the other (2) remaining sides, insuring that your height at the furthest corner away from your sump pump is 1” higher for every 10’ away from the sump pump corner. Any soil that you may need to add to get the base to the right height should be stepped on to compact firmly.

Once your pitch has been established, you will need to tamp down any loose soil in your base. Place a piece of cardboard on your base to prevent the soil from sticking to your hand tamper. Once the entire perimeter of your home has been tamped as needed, you will need to recheck your pitch in the newly tamped areas and make any adjustments necessary. Add soil as needed and retamp these areas. Then recheck your pitch measurements in these areas. Repeat the process if required. It is critical that your pitch be fairly accurate and consistent.


Step 11 – Install 2” of Gravel Below New Piping

Before installing your new drain pipe, install a 2” layer of gravel. Do this around the entire perimeter.

Check your measurements to your string line before and after installing your gravel to make sure that you are installing the correct amount and that your grade remains correct. Once the gravel has been installed, you should take your 4’ level and check the pitch from corner to corner every 4’ to make sure that it is correct. Add or remove any gravel as necessary and recheck your pitch in these areas.


Step 12 – Install Filter Fabric or Landscape Cloth

Line the trench on top of your gravel with filter fabric or landscape cloth so that it covers the bottom and extends at least 18” up each side of the trench.

Assuming that the width of your trench is 2’ wide, you will need to cut your fabric or cloth with your stanley knife, into 5’ wide strips. Overlap any adjoining strips of fabric or cloth by about 1’, placing the higher piece of fabric or cloth over the lower one. You can just keep the excess 18” near the outer most sides of the trench.


Step 13 – Install Your Drain Tile Pipe

Lay down your drain pipe ( Do NOT make any connections with your sleeves at this time.), recheck your pitch, make any necessary corrections, and recheck your pitch again. Once the pitch is correct completely around the entire perimeter, remove the string line (leave the stakes in place), and then install your drain tile pipe, making all necessary connections.

Lay your perforated drain tile pipe in the bottom of the trench. Ensure that it is centered in the trench with the perforations oriented horizontally (on the sides). Merely lay the pipe end to end. Do NOT make any connections with your sleeves at this time.

Place your 4’ level on top of the drainpipe in various sections to ensure it still has the pitch that was established earlier. Add or remove gravel under the pipe and landscape fabric, if needed. Recheck the pitch in any disturbed areas.

Once you are comfortable that your pitch is correct for your entire home’s perimeter, remove your string line (leave the stakes in place), and begin at the clay pipe extension near your sump pump, connecting your rubber sleeve to the clay pipe first, and then to your first piece of drain tile PVC pipe. Make sure that both of the pipes are installed all the way in to the center of the rubber sleeve and that the clamps have been tightened securely on both ends. Make sure that the pipe is kept with the perforations oriented horizontally (on the sides).

Then, take your tape measure, and measure the depth of one of your PVC sleeves from the center to the end. Using this measurement, measure the open end of your 1st PVC pipe that is attached and mark your PVC if necessary indicating how far it will enter the sleeve. Take your PVC cleaner solution, and using the dabber provided within the cleaner, apply the cleaner to both inner areas of your sleeve (where your pipes will be installed) and to the area on your 1st Pipe which you have measured. Use your scrap piece of 2” x 4” to support your pipe from coming into contact with the gravel. Let the cleaner dry for about 10 seconds.

Next, apply your PVC cement to the inside of your sleeve that will be attached to your 1st PVC pipe. Make sure that the cement completely surrounds the inside of the sleeve, but do NOT over apply too much. Spread the PVC cement on the entire area of your pipe that will fit into the sleeve. At this point you will need to work fast to complete the assembly before the cement dries. Align the sleeve and the pipe about a quarter turn from their final orientation. Then twist the sleeve a quarter turn as you press it onto the pipe. Twisting the sleeve helps spread the cement evenly to ensure a solid joint. Make sure that your pipe is completely installed into your sleeve and square. You can use the scrap piece of 2” x 4” and your rubber mallet to bang on the other end of the sleeve to make sure. Hold the pipe and sleeve together for about 15 seconds until the cement grabs. If you let go immediately, the pipe may push out of the sleeve, resulting in a weak joint.

Repeat this process for the entire length of the 1st side of your home’s perimeter, attaching additional pipes and sleeves as needed until you nearly reach the 1st corner of your home. Make sure that each pipe is installed so that after rotating it about 1/4 turn to insure that the cement is spread evenly, the perforations remain oriented horizontally (on the sides). At this point, you will probably need to cut the final pipe for you to complete that side.

First, measure the inside of one end of your PVC elbows, from the center to the outer edge. Also, measure your sleeve the same way. Add these (2) measurements together, along with the measurement from the outer edge of the last sleeve that you have installed, to the outer edge of where your elbow will be placed. This will give you the length that your final pipe for that side of your home will need to be. Measure this on your next pipe and mark the spot.

Using your PVC cutter (or hacksaw), cut the pipe on the mark, keeping your cut as square as possible. Once cut, you will need to debur the end of the pipe in order to remove any imperfections. You can do this with either your stanley knife, a file, or some 80 grit coarse sandpaper. Once you have deburred the end of the pipe, dry fit your pipe and elbow to make sure that the pipe has been completely deburred and that the length of your pipe is correct.

Once the correct length has been confirmed, remove the pipe and remove the elbow from the other end of the pipe. Use your cleaner on the end of the pipe that will be installed into the sleeve only. Then, apply your cement to the sleeve and the pipe and fit the two together.

Next, before you clean and cement the elbow to the pipe, you should mark both the elbow and the pipe with marks indicating where the final orientation of your elbow will be, insuring the end that will begin your next home’s side will be pitched at the correct angle. Dry fit your elbow, insuring that it is at the correct angle of pitch for your next home’s side where the piping will be installed. Make a mark about 1/2” long on both the elbow and the pipe where the final orientation will be lined up.

Then, use your PVC cleaner on this final connection on that side. Make sure that you have used your cleaner on the inside of both ends of your elbow, as well as the end of your pipe. Support your pipe with your 2” x 4” as you did before.

Then, apply your PVC cement to the elbow and the pipe, and initially begin installing the elbow at about 1/4 turn from your marks lining up. Twist the elbow as you slide it onto the pipe until your marks are aligned. Hold and let dry.

Continue down the line until all of your pipes have been installed.


Step 14 – Cover Your Pipes With Gravel and Fabric

Before installing your gravel, reset your string line around the perimeter, placing it at 12” above your pipes. Then, cover the pipes with 12” of your clean, coarse gravel (which will be up to your string line), and fold the excess landscape fabric on either side over the top of the gravel layer.


Step 15 – Replace Your Soil in the Trench

Using your long-handled pointed shovel and pick, replace the soil that was removed when digging the trench, compacting it with your hand tamper after every 1’ of soil reinstalled. Make sure to use cardboard between your tamper and the soil to prevent soil from adhering to the tamper.

Referring to the mental note that you made concerning the depth of your topsoil, remember to begin installing your black dirt topsoil when you reach that point in your trench. You will have about 14” of soil left over as a result of installing the gravel. Make sure that the leftover soil is your clay soil, and that you replace your good topsoil at the top of the trench. You will either need to find a use for this leftover soil, or you will need to have it hauled away.


Step 16 – Replace Your Plantings

Replace your plantings and water them thoroughly once they have been planted.

You must surely be glad that this project is over! Big job!


If you have water collecting in other areas of your yard, refer to my post:

How to Eliminate Standing Water in Your Yard

Congratulation on Your Completion!


Hopefully this will put an end to any unwanted basement water.


Please take the time to leave a Comment, letting me know how your project went.



CJ Dodaro


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