Home Ownership – dealing with water runoff

In returning to my father house after his illness forced him into nursing home care, I started to learn the joys and pains of home improvement.

My father had his house built in 1964. During this build, most of the area had no homes. When my dad’s home was built there was about 5 homes in the 2 block radius.

Water runoff was not much of an issue because most of the land was there for water to soak in and deal with it.

55 years later, this is not the same place. Most of the lots are filled with homes and as in most areas water runoff and poor city maintenance of Storm Drains leads to water issues. My dad’s house is on high ground but over the years with settlement, the dirt near the house was no longer higher and the gutters leaking put water right next to the foundation. with 2 sump pumps and some correction to the basement cinder blocks, resolved all but heavy storm rainfall.

Gutters were my first target. Two downspouts broke next to the foundation, one was fully blocked and the front gutter was sloped incorrectly pooling water away from the downspouts.

My first task was getting on the roof, cleaning the gutters, not done in 5 years, and once done, fix the downspouts and evaluate runoff.

Part of the issue is the house had 5 inch gutters and my  Dad had a small roof added over the front porch. The second issue is as a rule you should have a downspout every 20 feet of gutter. Prior to porch there was 2 gutters in 50 foot. The porch alone added 37 feet of gutter.

Complicated the gutters were not leveled properly, or over time and water weight caused the front gutters to be lower and hold water.

The incorrect front porch gutters were gifted with a rain chains. one on each corner of the front 22 foot run. Instead of a downspout you drill or install a hanger for a chain that acts as a downspout.

water clings to things as it runs and when you have a rain chain, it flows along the chain, so you see and hear the water running during storms.

Both terminate into rain barrel planter. One was in an area with a natural runoff, using a 90 degree elbow turn to a 2 foot, 1/2 inch pipe in the bottom, took the water away from the house the 2 feet required.  

 With the water seeping into the basement, the second was a little more involved.

I did research and decided in the front of the house to install 4 feet from the house a french drain. The second rain chain feeds into a wood barrel bucket with 5 holes in it. In the bucket, I put rocks, filter cloth and the last thing after testing was two plastic strainer basket, one turned upside down the other right side up from a Healthy Choice Steamer. This was put in place as a filter as testing showed the  gravel and silt shifted and blocked the drain holes in the bottom of the planter. The upside down steamer with rocks on top prevented  the blockage. The bucket now empties into a drain with a seven foot 4 inch PVC pipe with no holes and then 45’s into the 20 feet of perforated french drain PVC.

The Summer tests with heavy downpours showed that with both Rain chains installed, the overflow was collected and water in the gutters causing dripping at the foundation and infiltration also stopped. The french drain also proved well at moving all front surface water away from the foundation.

My last step left for 2020 is to install another 20 foot of 4 inch PVC to the side of the road and a pop up emitter. the side of the house has a decent drop off to the road and after adding another 45 bend at the top where the french drain ends, it should resolve all front water issues. As a bonus of hand digging the trench, I gained a lot of dirt removed and replaced with 2b gravel. This allowed me to boost and slope the 3 feet from the wall of the house back out to the french drain.

Now the costs in Pennsylvania.

45 feet of PVC and a few connectors about $55.00

Wrap for the trench, wrap for the pipe itself, folding the extra over the top after gravel was 75% covered and the 3 foot by 20 ft from the wall of the house.. $25.00

Bucket and drain and pop up emitter $40

Rain Chain at $0.87 a foot $8.00 times two or $16

The gravel. 3 scoops of 2b (3/4 inch for drainage) $60

one scoop river rock decorative for the top $30.00

Rock Delivery – $20

Bricks for a small 1 row run, separating the drain from the 3ft to the house wall. Free.. scrounged from abandoned supplies.

Total because I hand dug..  was  $246.00 

Update for end of 2021.

In 2020 I walked around the property, examined water runoff, the downspout issues, leaking seams and roof sections where rubber caps had dried out and needed resealing. Walking around the home outside with a flashlight and umbrella during a storm seems odd, but that’s the time to see issues.

Still with some water and a few times with a 3 foot stream running down a sidewalk and between the houses into the foundation of the lower neighbors house, I took the time during large rainstorms to walk the block. I reviewed water runoff, peoples sump pump lines, and the entire block of rainwater traps. It seems that around 2013 the road was resurfaced and the one drain just up the block had (Unknown to anyone) a part of the asphalt about 2 foot by 1 1/2 foot bumped into the drain while the road was repaved. This with leaves and silt quickly obstructed the storm-water pipe and no one went out during a storm to evaluate it locally. A lot of the local flooding over the years was caused by the blocks above running sump pumps exiting to the lower road I was on, and the combined 100 yards of water from up the block, exiting out onto a small section, as the drain obstruction forced the water up and out.

This supplied a large water runoff in a small area and jumped curbs and caused property over saturation and basement flooding.

I am awaiting 2022 to see the results as this seasons major storms passed by the time the corrections were made.

Below are some Photos of the rain chains and how they can be a simple and soothing addition if correctly added onto a home in both summer and winter.


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