I have a large crawlspace. I have seen water in two corners of the crawlspace. Not standing water or anything, just dampness... just enough water that I know there is water getting in. It's not just the dirt, it's the actual cement of the foundation that is getting wet, and it gets slightly worse when it rains.

I had a general contractor suggest to me that the dirt on the corners of the house needs to be graded away from the house. That's obviously something that can and should be done, but it doesn't seem like an actual fix, rather a temporary solution.

EDIT: It seems that the solution would be to slope the soil away from the foundation.

Reworded question:

What's the best method to re-grade/slope the soil around the foundation to move water away from the house? Are there special types of soil that can/should be used?

  • Is "it gets a bit damp in two of the corners" the worst that happens? If so, then consider the cost/benefit of whatever intervention you're considering. May 19, 2016 at 0:45
  • 2
    You think the contractor is "full of it" because you have more experience than he does? Or was it some other reason? Most basement and crawlspace water problems all start with the same prescription... Grade drains away from foundation, and clean gutters and check downspouts to keep water from draining down the wall.
    – Tyson
    May 19, 2016 at 0:49
  • Related: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/55312/…
    – Ecnerwal
    May 19, 2016 at 2:30
  • @DanielGriscom, yeah, there's nothing really significant at the moment, I just don't want it to become something worse... which is why I was thinking some sort of sealant would be an easy/good solution
    – eerick
    May 25, 2016 at 19:10
  • @Tyson, the only reason I used that language "full of it" is because from my understanding, the foundation shouldn't have cracks that allow the leaks in the first place... I'm obviously hoping he knows what he's talking about, but I've been given incorrect advice by professionals plenty of times
    – eerick
    May 25, 2016 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


What the contractor is "full of" is excellent advice.

If you really want to spend money like you have a firehose connected to your wallet, dig out around the outside of the house to the footings and put drains there which slope out to daylight (or a sump if you want to be beholden to a sump, and its pump forever) - and coat the walls while you have it open, but the drains are the important part of that job. It's the ultimate drainage retrofit (and SHOULD be done as a matter of course any time a footing/foundation is poured, as that's the only time it's CHEAP to do, since the hole is already there and open), and it STILL goes with fixing the grade around the house when you refill the hole.

If you "dig back on the corners" and coat them, you'll "magically" get leaks elsewhere along the walls - if you are going to dig, dig all the way around and get that over with so you can drain it properly.

It's a far more economically sensible approach to start with removing the source of water trying to drain into the basement in the first place by fixing the grade. There are other relatively less expensive steps you can take as well while doing that, such as laying a plastic or EDPM rubber barrier under the soil that slopes away from the house for some distance, without involving digging all the way down to the footings. But you don't have to be economically sensible, if that's against your principles.

Unless you are 10 feet tall, 7 feet is a basement, by the way. Not one with a lot of headroom, perhaps not one you can finish under some codes, but if you can stand up in it, it's a basement...

  • Yeah, it's got a dirt floor, it was sold as a "crawlspace", and if I put a cement floor in or try to finish the ceiling then the headspace is going to shrink to the point where I can't stand up straight... I already have to duck through the doors and piping down there, so I'm sticking with crawlspace.
    – eerick
    May 25, 2016 at 19:18
  • I'm not trying to sound thick-headed, but I genuinely want to know... if the problem is ONLY in the corners then why would re-coating the cement to fix any micro-cracks be an issue?
    – eerick
    May 25, 2016 at 19:21
  • I'm accepting this as the solution since it mostly answered my original question.
    – eerick
    May 26, 2016 at 19:37
  • If you stop the water coming in at the cirsers, it will "look" for the next place to get in. Unless there is NO place for it to get in, stopping the two places that it leaks NOW is most likely to move the leak, rather than fix it. Fixing the grade might (I did say might, not will) fix it without any need to dig down and apply waterproofing, by simply diverting the vast majority of water.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 26, 2016 at 23:37

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