PVC pipe downspout underground
Illustration: Tom Moore
A dry well fed by a 4-in. PVC pipe running from downspouts can disperse the water gathered from the roof. It should sit on a gravel bed and be wrapped with landscape fabric that holds out silt.
Also clean gutters so they won't overflow. (If your home is not equipped with gutters, install them.) And make sure the soil around the foundation slopes away from the house 1 inch per foot for a distance of 4 feet. And add downspout extensions if needed so gutters drain 4 feet away from the house onto splash blocks.

Many homes have an existing underground drainage system. Unfortunately, the system often breaks apart or fills with silt after several decades. You can call in a drain-and-sewer-cleaning contractor who will use a long power snake to try to clear the lines. But often they just have to be capped off at the surface and abandoned.

Instead, drain rainwater from gutters into a dry well a hole lined or filled with gravel or a tank that allows runoff to soak into the ground slowly. The Flo-Well system (about $150), which features a plastic tank wrapped with polypropylene fabric to block silt, is a typical residential dry well. It can handle runoff from a 500-square-foot section of roof. Install a dry well at least 10 feet from the house in a hole 3 feet deep. Then cover it with soil and put a plant on top to mark its location should the system back up. Planting grass alongside your house is another way to absorb excess water. But don't plant trees; their roots can damage the foundation and an underground drainage system.

interior gutter system
Illustration: Tom Moore
Interior gutter systems catch basement water and channel it to floor drains or a sump pump. Epoxy seals the channel to the floor; the same glue can create curbs to route the flow to a drain.
Severe cases. If water is still gushing into your basement, call in a professional. Otherwise, consider an interior gutter. This dam-and-channel system goes around the perimeter of the basement floor and collects water that flows down or through the walls or floor, routing it to a floor drain or sump pump.

The Squid-Gee Dry system from Waterproof.com LLC can be built to size using 4½-foot-long PVC sections ($11.98 each) that are joined like PVC pipe with couplings ($5.99 for a 5-pack). Special epoxy holds the gutters to the floor. The DryTrak from Basement Systems uses the same gutter principle for professional installation (about $35 per linear foot), which includes a sump pump.

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