When it rains I get water pooling around the foundation of my house, which I think is causing a musty smell in the basement. I had rain gutters on the house, but don't now because the snow and ice damaged them a few winter's ago. What's the best way to get rid of the standing water without having to buy new gutters?
Ray ~ Cleveland, Ohio
Ray, one of the most effective ways of keeping water from pooling around your home's foundation is to create positive drainage away from all four sides of the house. Ideally, the finished grade around your home should have a slope that drops about six inches within the first ten feet, which should be adequate to direct storm water away from your house. Additionally, the highest point of the finished grade should be at least six inches below any exterior trim or siding on your house, which can help prevent water damage to these parts of your home.
If you can not avoid having negative drainage around your house, because your home is built into a hillside or a sloped lot, then you may have to install a French drain system to move the standing water away from the foundation. A French drain is basically a long narrow trench, which is dug beside the house, that collects water and moves it to lower ground. These types of systems can use drain rock, gravel, or perforated PVC pipe to collect and move the unwanted water.
Although it sounds like you would rather not install new gutters on your house, a functioning roof drainage system could also help solve your problem. If sliding snow has damaged your home's gutters in the past, then you could install snow breaks along the eaves of the roof to hold any snow load in place. If you do install some gutters on your house, make sure the downspouts move the collected rain water away from your home's foundation by several feet.
If you get rid of the standing water around your home, and the musty smell in your home's basement does not go away, then you may need to consider different ways to seal your basement walls. There are several effective ways to seal your basement walls, such as rubber membranes that are installed on the outside of the basement walls and liquid sealants that are applied to the interior side of the wall. Of course, your best bet will be to solve your drainage problems first, and then see if any further work is necessary.