Get Serious About Drainage NOW!

Dear Jim:

 “My basement flooded starting with the big storm on New Year’s and the problem

Is not getting better as the rains continue.  I put in a drainage system on one side of my house 5 years ago and it was working just fine until this year. I need your help to figure out what is causing this and what I can do to prevent this happening in the future”.

Climate change is happening.  It’s something I have been talking about as long as I can remember.  But now we are starting to see more cumulative effects and we are at a tipping point where everyone from homeowners to our government officials needs to act or else live with the consequences of their inaction.

Warming temperatures are causing more extended droughts along with dramatic rainfall events and more erratic weather. Unfortunately, this is the first year I can remember these large-scale bomb cyclones and atmospheric rivers occurring in succession.  Our soils, parched by several years of primarily drying weather, are being subjected to huge volumes of water which they can’t absorb, causing significant flooding, settlement, slides, etc.

Most of our older homes (circa 1910-1930) are experiencing substantial stress if they have not had needed structural upgrades completed by this point in their lifespans.  In a way similar to how roofs keep water out of your house and protects their interior, your drainage systems protect your foundations, framing and support elements under you home, keeping out water which leads to settlement, mold, termite and dry rot damage and deterioration of your foundations.  Your drainage system is the lynchpin that protects the structural elements from deterioration and possible failure.

So why are most of us so far behind in protecting our homes?  There are a variety of reasons. Since most of us have never looked in our crawlspaces and are frankly often afraid to do so, we are unaware of the issues lurking down there.  We focus on the cosmetics of our homes where we enjoy spending our money and shy away from investing our dollars on things we can’t see and don’t appear to make our homes more (immediately) valuable.  And most drainage work is not done by drainage professionals, but by gardening and landscaping folks and general contractors who install inexpensive and poorly designed systems which often fail and cause bigger problems in the long run.

You don’t want to get stuck with a flooded basement during heavy rains


The work is more difficult and expensive and help is hard to find.

So what is the answer?  Accept the fact that you may need a comprehensive drainage system for your home.  Understand that may be a lot of work and more expensive to install than you would like.  And know that bigger problems may lie ahead if this work is not completed.  Once foundations become compromised by long term water infiltration you may have a big foundation replacement project on your hands as well, and you may be able to delay that huge expense if preemptive drainage work is completed.  After seeing the unprecedented damage from failing drainage and fielding endless call and emails from panicked homeowners I’m making it my personal crusade to get this message out-it’s time to do the right thing for the future of your home (and for your peace of mind).

Conversations with Your Local Contractor is a feature by Jim Gardner of Jim Gardner Construction Inc. (with articles finessed by Lisa Gardner).  If you have residential, homeowner questions OR ideas for

an article you’d like Jim to highlight, please send an email to


Jim is a long-time Piedmont resident and has been doing structural repair and basement renovation in your neighborhood since 1983.  To schedule an estimate or for more information please go to our website at

Jim Gardner Construction

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