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Dealing with Moisture

One of the most common issues with underground homes is controlling the water that can adversely affect the home's structure and livability.

Moisture in underground homes

Every single water source and everyplace in the home where water might end up will need individual attention to make sure that your home is watertight.

Water problems come from various sources, including:

  • Running surface water
  • Stagnant surface water
  • Rain water
  • Water that flows over your home
  • Subsurface water pooling on your roof
  • Excess water in your drainage system
  • Water that flows in the earth all around your home
  • Soil moisture
  • Natural water in the area water table
  • Plumbing issues
  • Indoor water-use units like kitchens and bathrooms

The water that affects your home can damage it in various ways. They include:

  • Swamp or desert-like conditions at the surface
  • Erosion
  • Waterproofing failures, dripping or dampness in your home
  • Structural failures
  • Mildew, mold and insects
  • Underground drainage clogs
  • Humid or dry interiors
  • Drains that can flood or back up
  • Losing stored heat

The first step many builders use is to keep the water on the surface away from your home. Sculpting the land around your home will help to steer the runoff into areas where it won't be a problem. Adjusting your position if you're building on a slope will also help keep surface water from becoming an issue.

Storm drains in your home should also be of suitable design that they won't become clogged with leaves or other debris. All water needs to be drained away if you don't want to have water problems in your underground home.

On Golden Pond ...

You'll want to avoid ponding on the roof of your home, too. When it pools, it puts pressure on the roof, and this can cause structural failure. This is easily avoided by the use of a roof placed on your home at an angle that allows water to run off. Dome shapes also are stronger and shed water well.

Water may also collect at the points where your home meets the earth. This intersection includes waterproofing and flashing, and weep holes can help keep water from building up behind retaining walls.

Earth sheltered houses can also be more eye-appealing if you have adult vegetation on the roof and around the home, instead of just grass. The roots of mature trees will use some of the water that might otherwise be a problem. Be sure not to select trees or other plants with excessive root systems, or they may interfere with the home.

Underground Umbrella Home

Umbrella Protection ...

A watershed/insulation umbrella can help you in solving various water problems around your home. Keep the moisture levels where you want them by placing your umbrella between the top earth layer and the storage zone. This will be helpful to keep the earth berm around your home dry. These umbrellas are typically made from three plastic layers with insulation between them.

It may also be beneficial to install a gravel layer around the outside of your umbrella, rather than a drain tile. Drain tiles tend to move water too quickly, while gravel only allows excess water to drain off, which keeps needed water in your moderation zone, for your plants. It's the best of both words in controlling the water that you don't want inside your earth-sheltered home.

Written by Kevin Knatloa

First Published on November 05, 2012

Updated November 22, 2013