3 Ways to Mitigate Foundation Heave (Leaks, Drainage, Gardening)

Heave potentially poses a plethora of major problemas for your foundation, sidewalk, and pool patio. The good news (the gradient gospel, if you will) is that there are ways to mitigate heave.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our articles What is Foundation Heave (Signs, Causes, & How to Fix) & Is My Foundation Heaving? (Signs, Causes, & Treatment) 

If you don’t have time to read those articles right now, here is a brief recap on heave to catch you up to speed. 

Heave 101

Heave heads heavenward. Foundation heave is the upliftelevation of a foundation precipitated by soaked, expanding soils and can generally be attributed to a seasonal increase in moisture, a shallow frost line, water leak, and/or underground aquifers.

Wet = Expand

Dry = Deflate 

This expansion of soil exerts undue stress on the home’s foundation, often culminating in drywall cracks, sloping floors, and sticking doors/windows.  

 In this article, we are going to cover how you can mitigate heave:

  •   Find, fix leaks
  •   Ensure there is adequate drainage
  •   Plant shrubbery

Fun Facts with Brian – Some foundation repair contractors recommend installing an underground sprinkler system around your home to keep your soil perpetually heaved. Yes, it’s as expensive and stupid as it sounds. Rule of thumb when it comes to heave: dry, don’t water.

Find, Fix Leaks to Impede Foundation Heave

Moisture is Public Enemy Number 1 when it comes to foundation heave. Leaks around the property provide a constant, steady supply of aqua – translating to a constant, and steady expansion.  

This expansion loves to lift concrete, causing trip hazards. While walking around your property, look for damp/wet spotssitting water, and sections of the yard that are greener than the rest.  

Common culprits include:

  •   Busted water main
  •   Leaking water pipes (check for wet/damp spots in the crawlspace)
  •   Broken underground sprinkler system 

Turn off all of the water in your home and check your water meter. If the numbers are still moving up, you definitely have a leak.

Once you have found the source of the water leak, call a repairman or repair it yourself. Give your yard time to dry out and see if the heave subsides. Often, targeting in on leaks is a great start, but is not a fix-all measure.

Install Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is one of the most imperative steps to combatting heave. The soil on your property is similar to a waterbed. Drained, the top section decompresses. Filled, the water table expands.

When seasonal rains arrive if there is no proper outlet for excessive runoff. And, unlike our waterbed analogy, the soil does not pop. The earth has no choice but to continue to expand, exerting more and more upward pressure onto your foundation.

Different Drainage Options:  

French Drains

French Drains prove the industry favorite when it comes to common drainage systems. French Drains create a gravity-fed channel for excess water to drain through. The excess water is filtered through a gravel permeated trench, then flows into a perforated pipe, and is finally deposited at a safe distance away from the home/structure. Often, French Drains are directed to a street, drainage ditch, or dry well.  

Footing Drains

 Footing/Foundation drains are installed around the perimeter of your foundation and are typically comprised of flexible ABS pipe and/or perforated 4–6-inch plastic utilized underground. These types of drains are prevalent in homes with basements.   


Gutters guide rainwater away from your home. Ensure these downspouts are pointed away from your home/footing to avoid washout and water damage.


 Ensure that the concrete slopes away from the house at least a 2% grade.   

Gardening & Planting Shrubbery

You can also plant shrubbery and small trees to help soak up the water with their root systems. We here at Dalinghaus do not recommend planting big trees directly adjacent to your home, due to gnarly root systems which can cause heave on their own. 

Instead, we suggest planting small trees and shrubbery to help soak up any extra moisture the drain system hasn’t redirected away.  

Small Trees –

  •   Weeping Willow
  •   Red maple
  •   Bald Cypress
  •   White Cedar
  •   River Birch
  •   Oriental arborvitae

Super soak-up Shrubs –

  •   Summersweet
  •   Red twig dogwood
  • Black chokeberry
  •   Buttonbush
  •   Inkberry
  •   American cranberry bush
  •   Blue elderberry.

Dalinghaus Can Help with Heave 

Feel free to try out these three measures on their own before reaching out or, why wait? If you live in SoCal and Central Arizona,  book a FREE inspection now by clicking the link below – 


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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