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Old 06-22-2019, 03:18 PM   #1
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Walkout Door Grading


The main intent of my project is to grade the yard to prevent water from entering around my back door.


My challenge is that if I add 10-12 inches to the yard, it will block the bottom of the back door.


I would like to dig down about three feet and build a box in the ground around the door (about three feet deep, three feet wide, two feet long) which i could fill with gravel. So, coming out the back door, you would be in a lowered step, taking one step up to enter the lawn or the walkway. That way I could grade the yard around the back door.

I will be moving the deck to another location, and changing my walkway design, so no need to think about other yard features.





Other challenges include:


1) Water runs under the door with heavy rain. When the area is excavated, I will seal around the door. Not sure the best way to seal around the wood and concrete.



2) I have a half buried foundation, so the weeping tile would only be about three feet deep. I don't want to damage it, or put weight on it.


3) Not sure what to build the box with (cinder blocks or wood).


4) I live in a cold winter climate, in northern Alberta, so not sure about frost line implications (I don't want to build a water or ice box).
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:35 PM   #2
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


That concrete should be 5 or 6 inches lower than it is and there should be a floor drain in it.
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Old 06-22-2019, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


Any chance of raising the door up one step, 7-8 inches? Gives you a chance to put a proper sill pan in, and allows you to keep grade a current level.
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Old 06-22-2019, 05:54 PM   #4
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


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My challenge is that if I add 10-12 inches to the yard, it will block the bottom of the back door.
Ayuh,...... Yer goin' the Wrong way,....

You should be lowerin' the yard to a dainage point,....

A box like that will just fill up, 'n flood the house anyways,......
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:15 PM   #5
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


I would be open to the idea of a drain going down to the weeping tile. I'm not attached to the slab of concrete, though, so would prefer something like bricks, pavers or gravel.


Raising the door up would be beyond my DIY. I don't mind rougher yard stuff, but anything getting into carpentry is a bit out of my current skill level. If I had someone do that, I think I would end up with a high threshold and a shorter door? The door opens directly at floor level on the walkout level. That level of the house is finished, with a crawl space underneath it which is accessible from the basement, which is down 0.5 levels from the walkout level.


I thought of lowering the yard, sloping away from the house, but I don't have a lot of geography to work with. The lots are narrow, and then I would end up being below street level, and would immediately be lower than my neighbours' yards. I could put a ditch in the back yard, but based on the neighbourhood, it would likely turn into a slough. It's a dense neighbourhood with clay like soil. If I take a few steps back from where I took the picture, I'm in my single car paved space, which exits to a lane way. The last paver before the door slab is probably about 4-5 inches below the lane way.


It is usually quite dry in this part of the world, but we can get heavy thundershowers in the summer, and the occasional winter melt happening on frozen ground. I would like to add 6-10 inches of height right around the house, so that at least water is inclined to not run toward the house. The only parts of the foundation that give me grief are the basement window at the front, which I would like to put a window well in, and the back door.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:18 PM   #6
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


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I would be open to the idea of a drain going down to the weeping tile. I'm not attached to the slab of concrete, though, so would prefer something like bricks, pavers or gravel.


Raising the door up would be beyond my DIY. I don't mind rougher yard stuff, but anything getting into carpentry is a bit out of my current skill level. If I had someone do that, I think I would end up with a high threshold and a shorter door? The door opens directly at floor level on the walkout level. That level of the house is finished, with a crawl space underneath it which is accessible from the basement, which is down 0.5 levels from the walkout level.


I thought of lowering the yard, sloping away from the house, but I don't have a lot of geography to work with. The lots are narrow, and then I would end up being below street level, and would immediately be lower than my neighbours' yards. I could put a ditch in the back yard, but based on the neighbourhood, it would likely turn into a slough. It's a dense neighbourhood with clay like soil. If I take a few steps back from where I took the picture, I'm in my single car paved space, which exits to a lane way. The last paver before the door slab is probably about 4-5 inches below the lane way.


It is usually quite dry in this part of the world, but we can get heavy thundershowers in the summer, and the occasional winter melt happening on frozen ground. I would like to add 6-10 inches of height right around the house, so that at least water is inclined to not run toward the house. The only parts of the foundation that give me grief are the basement window at the front, which I would like to put a window well in, and the back door.
Have had to put more than one door a step up out of a basement, it is not the end of the world. But you would still have water sitting just outside the door. I would remove the concrete, add a drain down to the perimeter drain install new concrete or pavers lower. If that takes you too close to the drain frost depth, work in some foam board too.

Then you can raise walls or steps around that lower concrete with treated 6x6 or brick or block or concrete.
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Old 06-25-2019, 07:00 AM   #7
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


We have the same kinda problem with our detatched garage door, the entire garage has sunk in so the door is now under grade. It's like 10 grand to get the floor lifted (mud or foam) Water doesn't puddle at our door (luckily), but we don't want it getting under the door either. We're thinking about doing a cement pad with a slightly raised rim around the entire perimeter. Of course, ours is only about an inch under grade. 10-12" is A LOT.

As a fellow homeowner in a snow and ice land, a step down to your door is asking for breakup/spring flooding. I seriously second the recommendation for bringing the door up and putting in a concrete/cement step/platform.

Anyway, so can you dig the yard down instead?

If you're going to do the step down to the door thing then I'd treat it more like a cinder block foundation than a retaining wall. Frost heave will eat a wood retaining wall and I imagine you're going to have some of that. I'd do full water proofing on all the exterior sides and put some kind of curved ridge at the top of the steps to the door to hopefully keep errant water from flowing down the stairs and turning into a winter death trap. (Do you guys get Chinooks too? Where everything melts for like two days then freezes back up, ours are typically in Dec and Jan. Texture your stairs or get exterior stair rugs heh.)
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Old 06-29-2019, 10:44 AM   #8
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


I think I will go with a cinder block box/retaining wall, and make a drain to the weeping tile.


Not sure what the weeping tile looks like, so will have to dig up area before I start to plan how to design the drain and how to build the cinder blocks around it.


We only moved in to this place in the middle of December. The actual weakness is the sub sill on the door allowing water to flow under it. The only times water goes into the basement are when the ground is frozen, and the melt in the immediate vicinity of the door makes its way over frozen ground and into the basement, or, when it rains really hard in a thunderstorm, and the ground is hard/bone dry, and rain is more prone to running on the surface. In all instances, it just seems to be the water that is falling/accumulating in the 20-25 square feet around the door. The most that goes into the basement is a puddle.


We had about an inch and a half of rain yesterday over a 24 hour period, and no water came in with that. I observed the whole yard, and the only puddle was next to the lane way at the back fence.


My goal is to add some grade to what seems to be a moderately well graded yard, albeit in a fairly flat neighbourhood. Having a better slope away from the house would make me feel more comfortable. However, adding soil around the door would result in the soil blocking the bottom of the door a bit, hence the desire for a small ledge immediately out the door.


In the front of the house, it will be kind of the same idea, but in the form of a window well. Can't bury the bottom 2-3 inches of the window with soil.


I'm paranoid about flooding, and want some protection in the case of an extreme rain event (when the storm drains get overwhelmed, and the road gets a foot of water, I would like to have just enough slope that my house perimeter is still fine). Grading, gutters, sealing.
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:12 PM   #9
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


I like that you recognize the problem and have a plan to remedy. My first choice would be to raise the door if at all possible. I am sure the retaining wall and drain will work fine in the warm months, the winter months concern me a bit. Heavy rains after everything is iced and froze could be disastrous. Imagine your pit full of water leaking thru the door.


Have you considered putting a awning or porch roof over the entryway? Something to keep water away from the door area.
Lastly, strongly recommend installing a storm door. It will protect the door jambs and threshold indefinitely. Without it, the rot clock is ticking.
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Old 06-29-2019, 03:29 PM   #10
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


Where in Alberta, your frost depth could be quite deep and that is where the drain will be.
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Old 06-29-2019, 04:37 PM   #11
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


I'm about 5 hours north of Edmonton. I'm guessing that the drain is at the bottom of the foundation, only 4 feet of which is below ground.


I'm still not sure how I would raise the door. If I did that, I would have to take a step up from my indoor floor to step onto the outdoor concrete. It would be ideal for grading the backyard, though.


Just to clarify where the water is coming in, I would guess the door cut-out in the concrete is about 8-10 inches below grade. The door frame is built up on what looks like a stack of five or six pieces of 2x8 wood. The water will leak in there, into the crawl space below the walkout level. The walkout level is actually first floor in a split level house, and the first half of its wall is concrete, with a shelf around the room. There is a crawl space below this level that is accessible from the basement, only half of which is below grade.


I think sealing under the door frame would prevent the leaking, as would an awning. I still want to grade the yard, though, so having a box around the door would allow for that, as would raising the door.
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Old 06-29-2019, 05:04 PM   #12
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


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Originally Posted by prairiewind View Post
I'm about 5 hours north of Edmonton. I'm guessing that the drain is at the bottom of the foundation, only 4 feet of which is below ground.


I'm still not sure how I would raise the door. If I did that, I would have to take a step up from my indoor floor to step onto the outdoor concrete. It would be ideal for grading the backyard, though.


Just to clarify where the water is coming in, I would guess the door cut-out in the concrete is about 8-10 inches below grade. The door frame is built up on what looks like a stack of five or six pieces of 2x8 wood. The water will leak in there, into the crawl space below the walkout level. The walkout level is actually first floor in a split level house, and the first half of its wall is concrete, with a shelf around the room. There is a crawl space below this level that is accessible from the basement, only half of which is below grade.


I think sealing under the door frame would prevent the leaking, as would an awning. I still want to grade the yard, though, so having a box around the door would allow for that, as would raising the door.
I found this on google so going down to the drain will cause as many problems as it solves.

Although our national standard is to install 7 foot helical screw piles to get below a 6 foot frost line, Geotechnical engineers have found the frost line as low as 7.5 feet in some soil types around the Greater Edmonton Area. This means you need a screw pile which is longer than 7 feet.


Yes sealing the wood below the door would be needed but to do that properly it includes a sill pan under the door. That would require removing the door frame.



Raising the door just a few inches would help and is done all the time.

If you raise the door you could put a bit of a slope to the walkway.


There are 2 ways to frame a door like that. One has the header just above the door and the other has the header up tight to the ceiling. And depending on the height of the wall the header just above the door is right at the ceiling.

I most cases you can raise it 1 1/2" just by removing the sill just above the door jam.

So a little research would have to be done about raising it.

The wood under the door should be changed out for concrete if possible and then waterproofed.
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:05 PM   #13
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


I think I've decided to raise the door.



I can't afford that immediately, so I am going to roll the dice with a short term fix by boxing it off a bit and sloping the surrounding ground. I really want to get some landscaping done this summer before grass won't take.



I think the main weakness at this point is an improper seal on the door bottom rather than surface flow of water, so I am going to seal that up with some sort of sealant.


A raised door won't make that walk out qualify as "below-grade" for real estate calculations of square footage, will it? Sounds paranoid, but I don't want to find out in 5 years when we go to sell that 8 inches of soil and a raised door threshold knock 400-500 square feet off my house.
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:21 PM   #14
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


That would be phone call to 3 or 4 local re estate agents .
For now I would break up that concrete and dig a hole there until you get tired of digging and fill the hole with that crushed gravel you have in the walk way now. Then build the curb and step out of 6x6 ground treated
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Old 07-13-2019, 06:00 PM   #15
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Re: Walkout Door Grading


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Originally Posted by prairiewind View Post
I think I've decided to raise the door.

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