Getting downspout water away from the house.


For most soil conditions, how far away from the house is it necessary to carry the rainwater from a downspout to avoid a damp basement?
My house and a lot of houses have 3 foot cement or plastic troughs that take the water a little over 3 feet from the house. Is that normally enough??
I live in suburban Baltimore, where the soil is what I would call normal dirt, though i guess there is quite a bit of clay too, in that much of it a couple inches down slices like a fruit cake, without crumbling, but not like a fruit cake in that much of the dirt that I can "slice" has no graininess.
I ask because I finally noticed that when it is barely raining, the water in the downspout doesn't fly out like it normally does, doesn't rush out fast enough to span the one half inch between the spout and the cement trough, and it dribbles on the ground very near the wall. I can't move the cement closer so I've made a bib, a 5 inch metal trough to go under the downspout and over the cement trough, to more than span that half inch. But can I likely expect that the basement will dry out now that all the water will be diverted to 3 feet from the house??
I myself am in no hurry to know, but I need to assure my new, very pleasant neighbor in the adjoining townhouse.
She tells me that a corner of her basement is damp, and her handyman or father or someone is coming next week to put something in that will direct the water from her downspout that's right next to mine, to direct it farther from her house, and he's going to do the same thing for me, but she was going to ask me first! :) The thing is, she already has a 20 foot black plastic 5-inch diameter corrugated tube that does this, so I think she is being tactful and really means me!
I told her I would fix it myself, and I want to be good to my word.
(Where I grew up, the downspouts went into drains that went out to the street. That's a lot nicer.)
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As far away as possible. Lay the pipe underground so it makes it look better and you don't have to mow/trim around it. Do it right the first time. Depending on how close her downpout is, you may be able to run both lines in the same trench or "Y" them together. They don't have to be too deep, but ask a few local contractors/excavators how deep they they would go for your area.
Hank
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Hustlin' Hank wrote:

Hi, Your yard should be sloping away from the foundaton first of all. If it is not better redo the yard.
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Three feet isn't very far. I'd aim for 8 to 10 ft. Of course it all depends on soil conditions and how easy or difficult it is to achieve any given distance. You can usually do it with the flex corrugated black pipe that is available at the home centers, hiding it behind shrubs or under mulch.
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wrote:

As far away as possible. Lay the pipe underground so it makes it look better and you don't have to mow/trim around it. Do it right the first time. Depending on how close her downpout is, you may be able to run both lines in the same trench or "Y" them together. They don't have to be too deep, but ask a few local contractors/excavators how deep they they would go for your area.
Hank
A lot also depends on the kind of soil and the slope away from the foundation. If there is good slope and the soil isn't too sandy once the water is directed away by the troughs it might just continue on its way. If the slope isn't good, or is even bad as it goes back toward the foundation, then it would be best to put in some pipe and get it further away. Another thing to consider is the amount of roof area being drained. I have one short gutter that is at the end of a large valley that probably drains more roof area that the 30 ft length of gutter on the other side of the house.
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There's a mild slope, and years ago I made a "levee" an inch high about 12 inches from the house wall. That's enough that surface water doesn't run back to the wall, because surface water barely gets higher than the surface and runs away from the house. There are no puddles. Rain itself doesn't fall on those 12 inches because the second floor overhangs a foot or more.
But of course I don't know what goes on after the water is absorbed into the ground.

I may have never seen sandy soil, except near the beach, but I wouldn't call this sandy.

It drains about 370 square feet, half of the house.
I have a front downspout too also with a 3 foot trough, and although i have a wardrobe in front of that part of the wall, I'm sure it's never been wet there. Even in the back, I'm pretty sure there were years it wasn't wet. And even when it's a little wet in that corner of the basement, it doesn't bother me. But something bothers her. To the other posters, I do appreciate your advice, I'm not going to assure my neighbor that all we have to do is regrade the whole back yard or pay someone to bury a drain. If she really wanted that and thought of it herself, in the spring I would have time to do it myself. I could use the exercise.

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On Sat, 5 Dec 2009 13:13:05 -0800 (PST), "Hustlin' Hank"

Her downspout is only 6 inches away.

The cable tv line would have to be crossed, above or below,. I think it's only about 2 inches deep. The guy put it in with a wiggler?, a vibrator with a cute name. So we'd have to go below it without cutting it.
A neighbor called Miss Utility, they call it here, and they marked his water, electricity and phone, but not his cable I think, which is the only thing in the back of the house. (We have no gas.) But I'm sure they would if it is specifically requested.

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mm wrote:

First, be sure the handymand/father/boyfriend checks her water heater to be sure it isn't the cause of the "dampness" (whatever "dampness" means).
Where do each of the downspouts drain in relation to the "damp" area? If she already has a long drain, and you don't but your basement is dry, then.....downspouts not the problem?
I hate those concrete pads for downspouts. We have downspouts around our condo, two on either side of our two patios (front and back) and right next to the building. Being Gulf Coast, Florida, we get some gully washers. To repair pretty serious erosion from downspouts, we first graded the soil a bit better - manual labor, no machinery. Then, in some places, put down landscape cloth and river rock. The rock is large enough it doesn't move when the water rushes. The rock also disperses the water and it really spreads out nicely down a gentle grade. No basements, so can't address that issue. In a few spots where hedges were right next to the downspouts, I dug out a little bit of soil, laid in doubled plastic trays from the garden center (the kind they have small potted plants in), and filled the trays with rock. Can fashion the same kind of thing with edger or stone, fill with rock.
If the yard slopes away from the structure all the way around, it shouldn't be the problem unless you have clay that doesn't allow drainage. Lots of rain recently? Low lying area in general?
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On Sat, 05 Dec 2009 17:44:15 -0500, " snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net"

Not quite as wet as "wet" would be. I pick up something I left on the floor next to the wall, and there's no noticeable water, nothing squeezes out, but there's a light coating of water on my fingers. But the sheetrock 2 inches up is dry.
Not the water heater. It's 30 feet away.

I'm pretty sure my basement was totally dry for years, and all I have to do to have that again is recreate the outside the way it was. Only tiny changes needed, and mabe all I need is that 5" metal sheet I am going to attach tomorrow to bridge the half-inch gap. Some time after I bought the house, the rear of the trough sank into the ground and I didn't notice it, and the corner of the basement, about 18 inches, was pretty wet for a couple years. Then I'd prop the rear end up with rocks and a few years later the rocks would disappear into the ground and the trough would be back down again. Then I'd put it up again even higher. Now the trough tips away from the house still, and I think the small amount of wetness is accounted for by that half inch gap between the downspout where it turns horizontal and ends, and the start of the cement trough. There's a 5 inch fence post, or I would have had the trough closer to the house. It was my mistake to ignore that half inch.

Me too. They look tacky. And it's only about 30 feet to the stream bed, although there's a tree in the way. And a fence I woudl have to go under. And the concrete pad's in the corner and i don't think about it much. Usually don't even see it because the deck is in the way.

Yes, After 2 or 3 months of drought, two or three months of rain.

In one way yes, as little as 15 feet to the flood stage stream bed. The water at least once a year rises to just 15 inches below the bottom of the basement window. But 25 feet from the window. Despite that, all but this square foot of the basement is very dry. If something leaks on the cement laundry room floor, I used to vacuum it up but I didn't have time once and it evaporated in less than a day. Even the wet cement dried out in that time.
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wrote:

Depends on your terrain, amount of rainfall, puddles, etc.

I'd say no, not even in Baltimore. A splash block may be ok if that area quickly slopes away from the house. I run flex black pipe underground hooked up to the downspout, a minumum of 10 feet from the foundation. On a few rainy days, take a look where water puddles the most and work on those areas.
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wrote:

There really are no puddles, I wish I had attached my new little metal trough yesterday. Today it snowed. Tomorrow or Monday I can nail it to the fence post, but it will take at least what, two weeks?, for everything to dry out.
Well, I'm not going to be able to quote any of you to reassure her but thank you anyhow.
I'll see what her handyman has in mind. If he is thinking about a 20 foot flex pipe for me, just too ugly, but since she says she smells must in her basement, I guess I'd do it until the spring, and bury it then. Maybe since she said, "He'll do yours too", she means to bury the pipe and just connect mine to hers close to the house. I'd like that and I'd pay for half of it, well, depending on how much it is, but at least part of it. And I'll do the digging on my side of the fence. If someone is going to screw something up, I want it to be me.
I feel bad if my badly designed setup is causing her damp corner, but no one has ever complained about this before. And the previous owner complained about a lot, including the snakes and rats he said that would live in my vines. (I've never seen a snake around here, and there is nothing living in the vines. I did see a rat 20 years ago.)
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You don't say if you share a common wall/foundation with your neighbor or if there is a space between the two buildings.
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On Sat, 5 Dec 2009 19:55:00 -0800 (PST), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

I did say she had the adjoining townhouse. So yes, we share a wall.
I'm going to tell her what I've done, tell her no one complained before, tell her I think this will take care of it, and see what she has in mind.
People here didnt' give me enough to assure her that 3 feet is usually enough, but in this case I think it is and if I've been causing her [roblem and she's willing to wait...2 weeks, a month, I don't know how long... I think her corner will dry out. I'll know when and if my corner does. It was dry in the past and I'm sure it will be dry again. I don't think she was specific what the guy she's hired was going to do this week, not sure she even knows. I think he has several things to do and might not get very far into this project. I don't think he is planning on digging a trench and burying a pipe, but maybe he is.
I told her some details about our houses and offerred to help her with some of her setting up and she said she would probably take me up on that soon, but also her brother is getting back from Afghanistan in a couple months, God willing.
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mm wrote:

Dang! I'd have to run the downspout drains over 500' to get to the road.
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