Top 10 Home Maintenance Tips – #2: Drainage

Blocked drain hole

Maintaining drainage is the second article in our series of top 10 home maintenance tips. These tips are based on our experience from inspecting homes in Tucson where we see certain issues on a regular basis. Issues that could have been prevented with some easy and affordable proactive maintenance. Proactive home maintenance helps prevent unpleasant surprises and major damage and keeps maintenance and repair costs down. We hope you find these tips helpful and use them to keep your home in good shape.

Drainage and grading

Our second home maintenance tip deals with maintaining drainage channels and grading around your house. As you know, we get some serious rain storms here in Tucson during the monsoon season with tons of water coming down in a short time period. All this water must have clear paths to flow away from your house to where it cannot cause any damage.

For this reason, the landscaping around your house should have drainage channels and proper grading to direct water away from your house. Drainage channels refer to the pathways around your house designed to carry rain water away from the house and to designated runoffs. Grading refers to the ground around your house and how its pitch directs rain water.

Damage from improper drainage and grading

If the ground around your house is level, or (worse) pitched towards the house, then it has neutral or negative grading and lacks drainage channels. This means that rain water will accumulate near the house or flow towards the house. This can result in major damage to your house.

Improper grading
Negative grading directs water towards house instead of away from it

One possible result is water getting into your house. If the water level is high enough and reaches above the slab the house sits on, the water can get into the house. Water can enter the house at the bottom of the walls and at doorways. As you can imagine, this causes major damage such as:

  • Ruined drywall
  • Ruined carpets
  • Damaged wood framing
  • Mold
Water intrusion
Water intrusion at family room due to improper grading

Even if water does not get into your house, it can cause serious problems from the outside. When water accumulates at the base of your house, it can take hours or days to dry up and evaporate. During that time, it soaks into the ground in those areas, while in other areas the ground dries much quicker. As a result, over time, this can cause uneven settling and damage to the structure of your house.

Maintaining drainage and grading

If the landscaping around your house was designed correctly, there should be clear paths that rain water will take to get away from your house. Drainage channels include actual drain pipes, swales, culverts, etc.

If the ground around your house properly slopes away from the house, then it has positive grading. This means that rain water will flow away from the house and towards drains, drainage swales, washes, or the street.

To ensure proper drainage, you should do the following:

  • Monitor the area around your house to ensure water can easily flow away from the house.
  • Inspect any swales to ensure they are clear and directing water away from the house.
  • Check any drain holes in yard walls to ensure they are clear and allow water to pass through them unhindered.
  • Examine drain pipes to ensure that they are clear and don’t have any damage or blockages.
  • Verify that downspouts from gutters extend away from the foundation to ensure they cannot wash out the ground near the foundation.


Put an annual reminder on your calendar for March or April to inspect your drainage and grading. Specifically, there are two reasons why you want to do this before monsoon season starts:

  1. Have your drainage and grading in good shape before the storms start and have peace of mind that you won’t have to worry about water getting into your house.
  2. If repairs or corrections are needed, you want to have enough time to hire a qualified professional landscaper to perform the necessary work in time before the storms start.


Maintaining drainage channels and grading is very important. If you spend just a little bit of time and effort every year, it will prevent water damage to your house and expensive repairs.