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Maintaining a Good Grade Around Your House

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Dirt Fixes

If you come up with anything less than an inch of drop per foot, you'll need to fix the grade around your house. This can be as simple as filling a few small depressions, but it can also call for more extensive work. If it's just a few depressions, you can fill them yourself if you have enough soil.

It will probably take more than a few bags of dirt from the home and garden store, so you might want to call a nursery or landscaping supply house and order a delivery of clean fill. When it arrives, shovel it into the holes until they're slightly more than full. If you're expecting rain, simply leave them alone. If you're not, water them down. Check back in a few days. If the holes are still lower than the surrounding ground, add more fill.

More extensive work will require some earth-moving equipment at a minimum. You might have to consult with an excavation contractor or a landscape company that does grading.

Pavement Fixes

If there's pavement such as a sidewalk or driveway right next to your house, it also has to slope correctly. If it doesn't, you'll need to correct the grade. There are several ways to do this:

  • Replace the pavement. This is the most expensive alternative, but one to consider if sidewalks and/or driveways are in poor condition.

  • Mud-jacking. This process is pretty much what the name implies. It involves drilling holes every few feet into the pavement and injecting grout (mud )through them at high pressure so that the concrete plate can be lifted and releveled. This can only be done by a professional.

  • Add another layer of pavement next to the house to reverse the slope. Make sure the new layer is at least 2 inches thick (3 is preferable). Anything less will crack fairly quickly.

If you choose the last approach, be sure to seal all joints and cracks in both surfaces—old and new. If you don't, water could penetrate them and end up where you don't want it—in your basement.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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