Skip to Main Content

Poor Foundation Drainage

Homes with basements can sustain water damage for many reasons including improper foundation drainage. Learn more about this issue, what to look for, and how it can be avoided.

Schedule Free Inspection

Water damage prevention is one of the top worries for South Carolina homeowners, but this can be difficult in homes with basements. Poor foundation drainage is one of the most common causes of water leakage into a basement. Read on to learn more about basement damage caused by improper drainage, what to look for, and how to avoid it.

How Poor Foundation Drainage Works

The Carolinas and Georgia experience more than their fair share of rain, which makes having adequate drainage around your Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, or Savannah property even more important. Poor drainage, damaged systems, or the lack of foundation drainage can result in significant basement and home damage. Below are some common reasons behind your home’s poor drainage. 

Failing Exterior Coating and Footing Drains

During the construction of your home, a tar coating and drainage pipe with filter cloth and rock are installed when the foundation is completed. These are installed on the outside of the house to help prevent water from entering the basement. If the external tar coating and drainage pipe are in good condition, water will not accumulate around the house. But the tar coating can degrade over time and the footing drain can clog with silt or be crushed by the weight of dirt above it. As a result, clogged, broken, or leaking exterior pipes are a source of a leaky basement. 

Damaged Gutters and Downspouts

Most homes have gutters and downspouts to catch and drain excess rainwater, keeping it away from your basement and foundation. But damage like holes and blockages in gutters can make it difficult for water to drain properly. Leaves and other debris become caught in the network of outdoor and roof gutters, causing blockages. Downspouts also can clog, sustain other damage, and not drain water far enough away from the home. This can result in water leaking into the basement, particularly in the corners where downspouts are located. 

The Risks of Poor Foundation Drainage

There are many ways that water can seep into your basement. The following can potentially be connected to poor foundation drainage: 

inspection before a foundation repair work

Wall Cracks and Foundation Damage

A sudden increase in hydrostatic pressure is one of the most serious consequences of improper foundation drainage. This puts an excessive amount of strain on a property, causing cracks to grow in the walls, foundation, and floors. As these fissures grow larger, they will allow more water into a property, compromising its stability and structural integrity. This can result in sagging floors and bowing walls, as well as the eventual collapse of severely damaged walls. 

Flooded Basement


When the area around your foundation becomes wet, it’s just a matter of time until water finds its way into your home. In most cases, this will result in general dampness, but in extreme cases, it may result in your basement flooding completely. If you have severely bowed walls or extensive foundation settlement following a storm, or if your property stands above an underground water supply, this is the most likely scenario. 

moldy walls

Mold Growth

Mold and mildew growth, as well as wood rot, are secondary issues that can be caused by improper foundation drainage. These are the most typical and severe difficulties in properties that have long-standing structural damage and dampness issues. Rot and mold, on the other hand, are quite easy to detect since they often emit a musty, slightly sweet odor. As soon as you detect these signs, it’s important to have the mold remediated and your basement waterproofed. Otherwise, your home’s safety and family’s health could be in jeopardy. 


Yes, poor drainage can lead to problems with your foundation. If the soil around your foundation becomes too saturated and failing drainage can’t handle the excess water, the soil will expand and exert pressure – hydrostatic pressure – on your walls. This can lead to wall cracks, bowing walls, and leaking walls. Wet, expansive soils common in South Carolina and Georgia also can cause foundation settlement. 

Repairing or replacing exterior systems like gutters and downspouts is straightforward with professional assistance. Professionals also can replace footing drains, but it can be an invasive process that requires a lot of digging around your property. The best solution is to waterproof your basement from the inside with an interior drainage system, sump pump, dehumidifier, and more. 

The drainage and water management systems around your home can be an intricate and complicated. Installing DIY fixes are typically temporary solutions that would need to be continually installed. It is in your best interest to have local basement waterproofing professionals like the team at Mount Valley Foundation Services oversee the installation of reliable interior solutions. 

Poor Foundation Drainage Can Harm Your Home. Protect It with Help from Local Experts.

Rather than expose your home to flooding, mold growth, structural problems, and other damage associated with poor foundation drainage, protect it with proven waterproofing measures from local professionals. Our experienced team at Mount Valley Foundation Services has the expertise and customizable solutions your home needs to stay dry and stable. 

Contact us today to schedule your free inspection and repair estimate. We are knowledgeable about the area’s expansive, problematic soil and wet weather, and how they impact homes throughout Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Savannah, and nearby. We have earned various accolades including the HomeAdvisor Elite Service Award, as well as positive reviews from thousands of homeowners like you. Repair and protect your home with us today! 

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Mount Valley Service Map

Our Service Area


1850 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29407


2110 Commerce Drive
Cayce, SC 29033


300 South Ave
Spartanburg, SC 29306