What is Surface Water Drainage?

Surface water refers to any water on the surface or ground-level. Civil engineers would count puddles, lakes and streams as surface water. Surface water also includes water that is flowing down to the ground such as rainwater from your roof that gutters should lead away from your foundation. Surface water drainage is the drainage of water away from buildings to sewers and on to appropriate locations like lakes and streams.

How is Foul Water Drainage Different from Surface Water Drainage?

Foul water is the wastewater from your dishwasher, your clothes washer and your bathrooms. That water either flows to your sewer or septic tank. This water is never supposed to mix with surface water until it has been properly treated. Surface water like rainwater runoff is expected to be safe to mix with other surface water.

Why is Surface Water Drainage Important?

If your home has poor surface water drainage, your home is at risk of flooding with the next heavy downpour. You’ll also see water-logged soil nearly year-round, especially if there is irrigation on or around your property. Surface water drainage is essential if you have a septic tank. If there isn’t enough surface water drainage, the septic tank will be slow to drain at best. And water-logged soil and localized flooding creates the risk of sewage being pushed back into your home. Note that you don’t have to buy a home and wonder if it is prone to this hazard. Companies like Coastal Drains can assess the current level of drainage. More importantly, they can advise you or actually modify the property to improve drainage. Find out whether or not you have good surface water damage before you’re hit with a costly flood.

What Can be Done to Improve Surface Water Drainage?

The simplest solution is sometimes clearing debris from storm drains and emptying drainage ditches so that you get back the initially planned surface water drainage. In some cases, the soil needs to be leveled around the home or downslopes restored in order to get natural drainage, though you could add French drains or drainage ditches, as well. This might become necessary as the area around you becomes built up. As they pour concrete for roads and foundations, there is less open ground able to absorb rain. This increases flooding and the risk of excessive damage.

Another solution is reducing the amount of water in the soil. You may need to stop irrigating soil that doesn’t need it or control the flow of water from a creek that keeps your backyard water-logged. Note that not all drainage problems require massive interventions. A basement or garden that keeps flooding might be solved by fixing the leaking gutters and extending the drainage pipes further from the house.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as putting drainage pipe extensions on the gutter outlets so that the water doesn’t discharge right next to the home’s foundation. This will also prevent unnecessary erosion of the foundation itself. Improving drainage on the roof could prevent heavy build-up that causes a flood when an ice dam breaks. This also has the side benefit of minimizing water damage to the roof itself.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

Author

Ronique Gibson, Assoc. AIA, LEED A.P., is a home design lifestyle expert and her blog Stagetecture.com started in 2009 and today has become a well sought after destination for helping homeowners with everyday lifestyle challenges. She also contributes her expertise to a variety of high-profile home design, architecture, and lifestyle blogs and publications.

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