1. Grading gaffes

Poor soil excavation can direct water toward the base of your house and through foundation walls. Make sure your yard is graded at least 6 inches in 10 feet so soil slopes away from your house.

You may have to build up a berm, dig a trench, or install a French drain to funnel rainwater and runoff away from your home. Also, be careful when you apply mulch on foundation plants. Make sure that slopes away from your home, too.

2. Downspout downer

Downspouts should direct rain and roof runoff away from your house. But if you don’t extend the downspout 5 to 10 feet away from the house, you’ll dump water on your foundation. You can buy extenders from plain ($15) to fancy ($30). Or bury a long downspout diverter underground and drain the water to the curb, a storm drain, or to a spot in your yard where the water will percolate into the soil.

3. Water woes

Avoid letting the soil around your house completely dry out and shrink during a long dry spell. The next big rain could soak the soil, making it expand dramatically and putting stress on your foundation walls. In drought, run a soaker hose around your house at least 6 inches from the foundation and 3 inches under the soil. That should help quiet soil contraction and expansion.

4. Root riots

Tree and shrub roots can compete with your soil for moisture during drought, causing your foundation to settle and sink unevenly. When that happens, drywall can crack and windows and doors will stick in their frames.

To prevent a war for water, plant deep-rooted trees and shrubs away from the house. If the branches touch the house, the tree is too close.

Need more info? Here’s more information on spotting foundation problems, and options for foundation repair.