Swales: Simple but Effective

Here in Pennsylvania, the terrain is very hilly. It’s common for houses to sit on a hill and for the basement at the front or back of the house to be underground while the other side is a “walk-out” basement to open land. This creates some challenges for the side of the house that the hill runs into because it is in the direct path of rain water.

If your house sits on a hill, there is fortunately a relatively easy fix to prevent water intrusion at the foundation. It’s called a swale, and it will do a great job of protecting your home for a fairly minimal investment in time and cost.

A swale is a shallow ditch or trench that is carved out of the hill near the house, which provides an area for water to drain into. The swale is carved out in a “V” shape, and the water enters along the downward sloping side of the ditch but cannot move upwards along the other side. Of course, if rain levels are substantial the water could fill the swale and pour over, but this is not typical with normal amounts of rain and when the swale is deep enough. Water may temporarily collect in the swale creating a long and possibly unsightly puddle, but this is a better option than allowing the water to run right against your foundation and potentially into your basement where it can cause substantial structural damage over time.

While you could certainly dig a swale on your own, the effort to do so is counter-productive for most homeowners, and the better option to guarantee a job well done is to hire a qualified excavation contractor who is capable of assessing the landscape and determining the best location, length and depth of the swale.

If your house sits on a hill and is the victim of frequent water intrusion on one side, consider adding a swale to the ground on the upward side to prevent further problems. Hire an experienced excavator to assess the lot and dig the swale so you know the job is done right. This solution is simple and will help your foundation immensely.

*To visit our main website, go to http://www.hillinspections.com

Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Professional Inspector (CPI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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