better outdoor living at home spring

How to Keep Water Away from Your Foundation

Keeping water away from your foundation is essential year round with spring and fall rains, summer storms, and snow in winter. Water that remains near the foundation can cause leaks into the basement, not to mention moisture problems.

Using Surface Drainage At Your Foundation Walls

There a number of ways to keep water away from your foundation. These ways include connecting downspouts to under ground drain pipes, properly grading the ground away from your foundation, and using surface drainage products. If your house gutters and downspouts, are not directly connected to subgrade (under ground) drainage pipes that direct water to the street, to a swale, or to a french drain, you need to use products that provide surface drainage to get the water away from your foundation. There are several products that can be bought at youre home improvement store.

Splash Blocks

One of these products is the splash block. Splash blocks are about a foot wide and about 2 feet long, and typically made of concrete or a hard molded plastic. A splash block is placed on the ground directly under the open elbow end of the downspout, to direct the water away from the house or garage, while also providing erosion protection. Also, it can be a good solution for tight spaces.

These were available in a couple of styles and in several colors including brown, dark green, and white. They were priced around $7.00 each.

At the home improvement store, we did a mock up of how a splash block is installed under the outlet of the downspout that is not connected to a subgrade system


Using this product alone will not move water far enough away from the foundation walls. We have seen numerous occasions where homeowners splash blocks just are not moving water from the gutters a sufficient distance from the foundation. The splash block is an effective tool if it is used along with a minimum of 5% ground slope away from the foundation, or if it directs the water onto a hard surface (like a driveway) that is sloped away from the foundation.

Flexible Downspout Extension

Another drainage product is the flexible plastic downspout extension that attaches to the bottom end of the downspout and lies on top of the ground. The idea is to extend the downspout extension so that the water is released away from the foundation onto a slope or directed into a swale. It can  be extended in length from 36” to its fully extended length of about 55”.  If more length is need, two or more extensions can be interlocked.



Mock up of the flexible downspout extension attached to the downspout elbow. The extension can be extended to 55 inches, and can be bent or angled for best location.


This product is more versatile than the splash block because of its extensibility, and its ability to discharge the water a sufficient distance from the house foundation when properly positioned to achieve positive drainage. Positive drainage means water is moving in a specific direction in order to achieve a desirable outcome; negative drainage means water moving in a direction where undesirable results will likely occur, such as pooling, or water moving toward your foundation.

The flexible plastic downspout extension can be easily hidden in a plant bed so that it does not get stepped on or moved. This downspout extension can connect to both 3-inch and 4-inch downspouts, and it is available in several colors: brown, dark green, and white. They were priced around $9.00 each.

We have seen homeowners use straight runs of downspout in place of the flexible plastic extension. While it may get the job done, it is likely to be difficult to optimally position a ridged piece of pipe.


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