Yard slopes towards house & causes flooding [Iowa]

Idyllic Pursuit
by Idyllic Pursuit

Six months after we purchased our home, we flooded four times in a month because of torrential, unrelenting rain. We are not in a flood zone or anything. Our basement had about six inches of water in it so we had to gut the finished basement.

Water pools at the corner of our house where there is a tiled area outside any time we get heavy rain. We do have a sump pump that we keep in that area with a hose that drains down the driveway. If the rain is really bad, we will bail water down the driveway because the sump pump has a hard time keeping up when it gets really bad. We also apparently have an in-house sump pump in the basement in some little recessed hole in the wall of our laundry room.

I've since learned that this house does also have french drains, so I imagine these do need cleaning out. We will call a plumber to help with that.

In the meantime, we have a lot of soil erosion on the hill in the backyard, as well as around the basement window well. Unfortunately, we're light on money right now but can definitely do hard labor.

We just need to have a little guidance on our best options for mitigating any further flooding issues so that we can then re-finish our basement and make the backyard attractive again (I'm sure our neighbors love us). Our desire is to move out to the country in the next year or so, so we've got to fix up the house before we put it on the market.

I appreciate any guidance, thank you!

yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
yard slopes towards house causes flooding iowa
  13 answers
  • Andie Andie on May 21, 2020

    Check the gutters and drains - make sure they’re clear and taking the water away from the house, so it isn’t able to flow back.

    It looks like your window well isn’t touching the sides of the house, you might want to connect it. I would try great stuff (maybe the waterproof kind) if there is a lot of water getting in the well. There might be a more attractive fix.

    It looks like your dirt (and some blocks) are almost touching your siding - there should be a 6-8” gap or it’s possible the water can pour over your foundation wall.

    Go out and look at your yard when it’s raining - is there somewhere you could put a trench (dry river bed maybe) to keep the water from flowing toward your house?

    To make it look better you’ll want to cover the tree roots again (dirt is about $40 per “yard” plus delivery. Then you’ll want to get grass growing, the roots will help prevent water from washing away the dirt - make sure it’s a shade mix!

    Have a basement waterproofing companies come out to give you estimates (whoever you can find right now...) - we had estimates from $14k to $700 and went with a guy who charged us $2,000 to fix some cracks in our foundation. We also regraded around our foundation but most of our yard was either flat or flowing away from the house, and we had plenty of space around our foundation to pile up dirt.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on May 21, 2020

    Such a frustrating problem —our flooding similar to yours in a newly purchased older home in 1995 it was completely solved by sump pumps and french drains that we installed due to our poor grade and aging septics in the front lawn. Extending your rain gutters is an option. Would work on getting the sump and french drains fully functional to remove the water pressure hitting your homes foundation.

    The sumps and drains worked so well we purchased a generator just to be sure as backup we could run the sumps in any situation needed....the generator was never needed.

  • Kathryn George Kathryn George on May 21, 2020

    French drain. We had the same problem at our weekend place in Indiana. We dug out close to the house put in 4” plastic tubing With holes drilled up from the bottom then covered with loose gravel for 1’ then sand then dirt. We ran the drain 59 feet from the house to a lower area. No more problems since.

  • Ellis Ellis on May 21, 2020

    In the gardening/landscaping section of our library, I found several books about the topic of grading land and handling water on your property. One method mentioned was to create a "swale," which is a kind of low-lying trench to divert the water to where you want it to go. Some plans described in the book had the water diverted to an area where the homeowners created a "rain garden" consisting of shrubs and plants that don't mind a wet planting bed. Take a look at your library and online and see what methods will work best for you.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on May 22, 2020

    Even with a slight slope, if the water is running towards your house you have a problem. It might mean digging up your yard and raking that dirt to slope downwards away from the house. OR...with a large problem, needing to re-grade your property. You can re-grade your yard using a bobcat. You will need to do some checks or inserting some drainage system in the dirt. I would first check all gutters to make sure water isn't coming off the roof and pooling in different areas that could flow back towards the house as well. Once the gutters have been cleaned and checked and you still have a problem, I would check any doorways (like a basement stairwell) and look for clogged drains that could cause water from seeping in under the doors. Always check those drains before hurricane season. Then I would start looking at your yard and seeing where the water is flowing and pooling with a heavy rain. If you already have seen that, then figuring out the best placement for adding some drainage perforated pipes so that the water has some assistence flowing away from the house. This is the type of drain pipe that you will need to insert into the dirt around the house or areas you are getting too much water:

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/4-in-x-10-ft-Corex-Drain-Pipe-Perforated-4040010/100211970?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal2_rr-_-100211705-_-100211970-_-N ;

    The above link seems to have some videos next to the product. Watch them if you can! Good luck!

  • You will need to re-grade the landscape around your house and create a swale to divert the water. My husband did this in one house we lived in and it alleviated the water seepage in the basement.

  • Tish Tish on May 22, 2020

    All great comments... and the French drain is my favorite, as they can actually be camouflaged to look like a gorgeous piece of the landscaping if you’re selling; an important fact as no one wants to buy a huge problem! 🥴

    The best of luck on resolving your soggy mess... my fingers are crossed 🤞🏼 that all goes well and you are nice and dry (and happy 😊) in no time!!! ❤️

  • Ilene Ilene on May 22, 2020

    If you have checked for all the major problems, a French Drain might be worth a try. We did this at our home. Good luck!

  • Marcia whitney Marcia whitney on May 22, 2020

    No one has mentioned digging a 'swale' - a shallow ditch for the water to run down and away from the house.

  • All fantastic suggestion here! If it were me, I would scope out local landscape architects and / or a soils engineer for a free or low cost consultation. I get the money thing, I am living in a ripped up house from a water damage issue several months ago. From the consultation(s), try to obtain more than one if you can, take copious notes so that you can do the work yourself. Be up front and honest that you have a limited budget and see what they have to offer.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 22, 2020

    Hello there,

    Something else you may wish to consider is to build a wildlife pond. Grade the soil surrounding the pond to drain into it. Sometimes it will have a high level of water and sometimes not. The other alternative is to make it a bog garden. Pretty and practical too........

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on May 22, 2020

    On HGTV they always put in a french drain for this... lol sorry hope that helps

  • Janice Janice on May 22, 2020

    No one has mentioned to check the paperwork from when you purchased the home. Find the "disclosure statement" and see if anything is mentioned about the home having prior flooding issues. Did you have a home inspection? You might want to check with your Realtor about all these issues and also It might be wise to check with neighbors to see if they know of this being an issue in the past. You may have some leverage if you find out the home has flooded prior and was not disclosed by the sellers.

    Now to get the poblem resolved, I'd suggest before spending much money that you get a professional in to assess exactly what needs done and prioritize the steps so you don't throw money down the drain and still not have the problem solved. The problem needs resolved so that when you get ready to sell and you have to fill out the seller's disclosure statement that you list the flooding and how it was resolved.