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Community and Q&A

Ground gutter/curtain drain techniques

MPEB | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

I have a 1920s home in Columbus, OH. As is typical of the neighborhood, it’s a small footprint (~800 sf) and more vertically oriented (finished space on 4 floors). The house has an existing gutter system, but the west wall (picture attached) still receives water exposure during heavy rainfall. We have an interior french drain system that functions – water will come through the weep holes during heavy rain, but there has not been water infiltration on other parts of the wall. Since water coming in is by no means ideal, I’d like to put in place a drainage system that addresses the water hitting this wall. The practicall challenge is that a sidewalk is located about 1′ off the wall. I’m considering:

-A ground gutter on the east side of the sidewalk (dig down 10″ with 1/4″/foot slope away from house, line with EPDM over XPS, 3″ perforated PVC drain pipe)
-A curtain drain on the west side of the sidewalk (dig down a foot or so, line with landscape fabric, 3 or 4″ PVD drain pipe)

A couple of diagrams showing the existing layout and proposed ground gutter and curtain drain are attached. In both instances, the drain pipes would connect to an existing PVC drain located on the other side of the house that runs to the street (see attached “Overhead” of the drain lines). I might install a dry well where these drain pipes connect, with the drain line to the street functioning as an overflow release.

Does the above approach seem sound? My one apprehension is whether the drain line in the ground gutter is to close to the foundation wall. But I’m not sure if it would be possible to have the ground gutter without the drain line and/or if there’s another viable solution for addressing this 1′ space short of removing the sidewalk. Is it crazy to just put a layer of EPDM under an inch or two of landscape stone in this 1′ space next to the house, with the goal of channelling any excess water over the sidewalk and into the curtain drain? Any thoughts would be welcome.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Your plan looks good to me.

    I don't advise that you top the curtain drain with grass; rather, use crushed stone right to grade. (You can buy decorative white stones for the top 2 inches if you want.) The grass will prevent rain from reaching the drain. Even with crushed stone, you'll need to maintain the system by pulling weeds occasionally and paying attention to possible silting.

  2. MPEB | | #2

    Thanks Martin. And your point on the grass is well taken...and convenient for me, as I've been pushing for landscape stone in a broader capacity for our yard.

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