First of all, I know this garage will never be dry. It's a standalone, one car garage built into the side of the hill that my house sits on. It abuts the neighbor's yard, and they have landscaping and flowers they frequently water. My neighbor even says the garage gets more water in it when they water a lot. Garage http://plk.webimages.s3.amazonaws.com/garage1.JPG

The garage has a rubber roof with two gutters that do not effectively drain water. The aluminum edging is not sealed to the rubber, so I'm guessing most water goes straight down instead of into the gutter. There is brush cover on all 3 sides of the garage. Gutter closeup http://plk.webimages.s3.amazonaws.com/garage4.JPG

Inside is a concrete floor with some cracks. The walls are unsealed cinder block. Even though it has been dry, you can see how much moisture is here. Should I try and seal the walls with DRYLOK? Inside garage http://plk.webimages.s3.amazonaws.com/garage2.JPG

My ultimate goal in drying this out is to build a small climbing wall in the garage. It will be 2x4 frame with plywood. I don't mind if it's humid, but I'd prefer that it not smell strongly of mildew. I don't want the wood to rot from moisture.

Plan of attack and open questions:

  • I have considered digging a trench around the perimeter and installing a simple drain tile system. Is this worthwhile? How deep should I go?
  • DRYLOK the walls?
  • Obviously, fix the gutter system and roof.

Anything else I should do?

5 Answers 5


I think you're going to have a lot of problems trying to prevent water/moisture in this garage.

As you say, improving the gutters is a good first step. It's likely that there is no drainage system around the foundation of this garage, so that is going to cause some trouble. You may be able to mitigate some of the ground water by putting a french drain around the outside, and draining it off to the side somewhere away from the garage. It doesn't need to be too deep (6" is probably enough), but there should be a gravel bed wide enough that any of the water that would drain around the walls is diverted (remember, water will follow the path of least resistance).

Ultimately, despite drainage, you're going to have problems with condensation. As the warm humid air meets the cool foundation, it's going to form condensation on the walls. This is unavoidable, since it is a garage and has a giant opening to the outside. If you build the frame around the inside in such a way that there is still air flow for drying, you may be able to reduce the effect though and at least somewhat prevent the smell. Definitely use pressure treated wood for everything here.

  • 1
    Sounds like a good plan. Do you think DRYLOK is a good or bad thing to do on the walls?
    – Peter
    Aug 9, 2010 at 17:28
  • 1
    It's really hard to say. It certainly seems like it could help somewhat with water coming in - but ultimately, it is masking the problem, there is still water there, though I'm not sure if that's really an issue or not. I think the problem is it won't help with condensation, which you will get if you're in a humid climate. You could try sealing (with tape) a piece of tinfoil to the concrete: the wetness on the outside is condensation, the wetness on the inside is from moisture in the concrete. That will at least let you tell how much condensation you get (though it will vary seasonally).
    – gregmac
    Aug 9, 2010 at 22:36
  • Also, is using pressure treated wood ok for inside usage? The frame of the bouldering wall will be inside the garage, so I'll be in an enclosed space with it for multiple hours per week. Typically it's used outdoors only, right?
    – Peter
    Aug 18, 2010 at 15:15
  • 1
    I ended up completely redoing the roof the garage. I found out there is gravel around the foundation and it drains to the storm drain. I did drylok the walls. So far, so good, but it's been pretty dry here.
    – Peter
    Sep 15, 2010 at 13:49

The proper way to fix it is to dig- all the way down to 6" below the bottom of the foundation- then install drain tile & gravel. Coat the outside of the walls with tar, then install plastic protector sheets so it doesn't get damaged by the backfill. Condensation could still be an issue- perhaps installing closed-cell foam around the outside (say, 2-4" thick) would insulate the walls enough to avoid it?

You shouldn't use DRYLOK; it won't fix the problem anyway. Water will just fill up the cinder blocks until it finds an opening.

The roof is definitely an issue as well. I'd rip that rubber off, pull off the flashing & gutters, re-do all of the eaves (since water has to be running right under the flashing and soaking the wood frame), then reinstall flashing & gutters, and shingle the roof (since I don't know how to install a rubber roof correctly).

  • Yes, I know this is the best solution, but it'd also be extremely expensive. It's not worth it for me.
    – Peter
    Aug 23, 2010 at 2:37
  • 2
    I didn't think so- but you did say "best". ;-)
    – nstenz
    Aug 24, 2010 at 20:27

I think you should fix up the gutter first, here's what you should do: Find a good place that the gutter is supposed to go to like a street or join long pipes to the gutter under the mud and lead the long pipes to a street with some water. I am not sure about this suggestion but could be could help you a bit, because your garage is build to under the mud I think there is a lots of work to do. Hopefully its will be fine .Very expensive to dig again and re build it again... : )

For me the best way to do it, is to rebuild it again and do it the right way. If that is okay for your budget. ( SORRY! )

  • I'd do the same thing as a start (fix the gutters), but I'd take the water from the roof of the garage and send it downhill to a drain field, if possible. (you don't want to send water straight to the storm sewer if possible, both for water quality and capacity issues if it gets treated) After that, you can see if you still have water problems, and take additional measures. (I'd next just put a french drain around the garage, not necessarily all of the way to the foundation).
    – Joe
    Aug 25, 2010 at 16:49

After re-reading the question, and noticed the comment that your neighbors water a lot --

If they've over-watering, and it's causing surface runoff, then a french drain / drain tile system at the surface might be the best solution (what @gregmac) said.

If they're spraying onto your roof, or if you get a lot of rain naturally, I'd look to fixing the gutters first (but I'd still want to fix the gutters, anyway).

If they're over-watering, but it's a long, slow soak, such that it's saturating the ground to a significant depth, you might have to go the route of digging down to the foundation and sealing the wall; you might also be able to drain away the moisture by cutting through from the inside, and installing a sump pump below the level of the foundation, but that's going to get expensive, too.


sue your neighbor, forcing him to install drainage so your property isn't affected. it's illegal for your neighbor to be draining onto your property.

  • Not only is it perfectly legal, it is quite normal for runoff to go onto a neighbour's property.
    – Chenmunka
    Sep 8, 2017 at 10:04
  • Agreed that this does not answer the question, but just as a note, it actually is illegal in many areas "to drain water on to adjacent properties." - now ask yourself, where do you drain it if it cannot go into a sewer? Of course there are adjacent properties all around you. The real intent of the law is to prevent someone from literally dumping their water in your lap. As erosion occurs, you sometimes have to relocate drains to avoid "new channels". Not worth suing over. If it even applied to this situation, it would surely outweigh its value by destroying "good neighbors" in the long haul
    – noybman
    Sep 13, 2017 at 3:05

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