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There is a forecast for several inches of rain between Thursday and Sunday here. I am in an old brick home with a sandstone block foundation. The soils are clay in this area.

There is a rather large stair-step crack in one of the front bedrooms, it seems to open up by a fraction of an inch every time we have a large rain event. Due to recent drought, the front yard is mostly bare soil, that is very hard and dry. There is a slight downward slope, from the street towards the backyard.

I am concerned about the soil absorbing moisture and causing more cracking. Is it feasible to use heavy-duty tarpaulins to try and minimise the amount of soaking of the soil? I have been told I am an absolute nutter for even thinking this.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Would you add a picture or two of the damage and the environs? And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Feb 3 at 12:50
  • I had a similar issue and I dug some angled trenches -only2 or 3 inches deep to channel the water away. Worked a treat for years. – Solar Mike Feb 3 at 13:21
  • It's difficult to say without seeing the situation in photos. Chances are good that you'll have water running under the tarp, making your efforts pointless. Show us the scene, though, in case there's a possibility. – isherwood Feb 3 at 20:13
  • My answer here says yes. – Mazura Feb 4 at 3:28
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The slope has to go the other direction

The slope must be away from your house for some reasonable distance. Otherwise tarpaulins will do nothing at all.

If the slope is away from the house, then yes, the tarps will help a lot.

Water flows downhill. If you think otherwise, that might explain why they are calling you a nutter ;) Every building code requires you take that into account when grading around your home, and you are required to grade so water naturally wants to back away from your house as it seeks the lowest level.

So have at least the first six feet slope away from your house. If this creates a "low spot" or impoundment where water would pool, then you need to re-grade to give water an ultimate outlet.

This outlet can be underground; if you have somewhere on your property low enough, you can install a French or Buckeye drain to carry water from the would-be 'pound to the low outlet. Don't spare the geotextile; you want to keep silt out of it.

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