Water is the enemy of your home and we get a lot of it in the Portland Metro area. Your home is designed to repel water away from it, but sometimes it finds a way to sleek and slither its way into the vulnerable wood that holds your house up. When moisture gets to where it is not supposed to be, it can wreak havoc on your home. One area of the home that can hold a considerable amount of water in your home without you noticing is your crawl space. Standing water in the crawl space can create a whole host of problems for your home including mold, wood rot and more. So, how do you get rid of standing water in a crawl space?
1) Determine how water is getting in
This can be difficult to do with any certainty, but search for the obvious solutions. For example, we often inspect homes in Oregon and Washington that have foundation vents where water is streaming in. Even my own home had this problem when I moved in. The property was sloped towards a foundation vent and I knew that this could only mean trouble. If you have a foundation vent screen that looks like water could be getting in, you can easily install a vent well. They cost about $20 at home depot and are installed by digging out about 2 feet of soil around the vent and putting in place. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not that simple. Water could be seeping in through cracks in the foundation, you could have a low water table or maybe you have pipes leaking. If you cannot determine how water is coming in, it is best to install a drainage system that diverts the water (keep reading).
2) Check the low point drain
Most homes should have a low point drain that allows water to flow out of the crawl space. This is just a pipe that is installed at the lowest point and usually slopes underground towards the street. These pipes are generally installed without any kind of filter and can be clogged easily. Also, sometimes they are not installed at the actual “low point”, defeating the purpose. If you live in a neighborhood, check the crawl space on the side of the house that faces the street. Is your low point drain under water? Then, it is probably clogged. Is the low point drain above water? Then, it is not in the proper place.
3) Crawl space trenching and french drains
When the low point drain in a home is not allowing water to flow out of the crawl space, it is time to make some improvements. This will usually mean that trenching needs to take place. Crawl space trenching is really hard work and needs to be done right by sloping the trench to either the low point drain (if it is working) or a sump pump basin (more on that later). The kind of trench that we incorporate with my drainage business is known as a “french drain”. We dig our trenches a minimum of 6″ deep, sloping it to wherever we want the water to go. Then, we install a 3″ perforated pipe with a geo thermal filter over it. Once this has been installed, we fill the trench and cover the pipe with drain rock. Maybe this sounds simple, but it is extremely hard labor, so give me a call if you need some help from an experienced drainage contractor.
4) Install a sump pump
A properly installed sump pump is a great solution to getting rid of standing water. Begin by digging a deep whole at the lowest point of the crawl space (we put in a sump basin that is 22 inches deep and 18 inches wide, but a lot of “do-it-yourselfers” will just put in a 5 gallon bucket). Either way, be sure to drill 1 inch holes all around the basin or bucket so that water can drain into it. Next place a sump pump into the bucket or basin. There are a lot of varieties of pumps that you can use, but whatever you use, be sure to plumb in a back flow valve on your discharge pipe. The best place to plumb your discharge pipe is to tap into your underground gutter drain pipes if you have them. These are usually located right next to the outside foundation about 18 inches deep. Just dig until you find a white or black 3 inch pipe. You can cut into this pipe and plumb in a connection to tap your discharge pipe into. This portion can get a little complicated and is “house specific”, so if you have questions or need help, please give me a call.
5) Call your local drainage contractor
My purpose in writing this particular blog post is to educate my customers of our process in eliminating standing water in the crawl space. There is no “secret recipe” to getting rid of standing water. We will tell you exactly how it is done and if you want to take it on yourself, you are welcome to. Just know that it is incredibly difficult work. We want to be a resource to everyone in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington area, so please give us a call if we can help you with your drainage and moisture issues.