Q: Our home was built in 1927 on a flat lot. We bought the property in 1960 and had flooding in the garage in the winter because of the slope of the patio toward the back door of the garage.

Several years ago we had an aluminum box installed at the door opening inside the garage with a pipe set at an angle to carry the water away from the garage. This eliminated the flooding in the garage, but we still have a puddle in front of the door when it rains.

How can we eliminate this problem?

A: We have a couple of ideas for getting rid of the puddle.

You could install a floor drain from the low point of the concrete to channel water into the aluminum box installed inside your garage.

The other option is to level the low spot in the walkway with vinyl concrete leveling compound, which will eliminate the dip where water collects.

Neither solution is pricey, but installing a new pipe is more work than leveling out the dip in the walkway. Leveling the dip will get rid of the puddle. But that water will go somewhere – maybe not where you want it to go.

The aluminum box that is installed inside your garage door is a dry well. A dry well is a hole in the ground where water collects. The pipe installed in the box channels the water away from the box. This is similar to a septic tank and leach lines. The pipe is probably drainpipe that is perforated with holes. This allows the water to percolate into the soil. Some areas have very sandy soil, which allows the water to percolate easily into the ground.

Installing a drain

The diagram you provided shows that the distance from the puddle to the box is only a few feet. We suggest you install a floor drain with a 3-inch polyvinyl chloride pipe (PVC) running from the low point of the sidewalk into the dry well.

To extend a pipe from the walkway into the box, you’ll have to cut and chip out a bit of concrete.

To cut the concrete, attach a diamond-studded blade to a circular saw. Cut parallel lines about 8 inches apart from the low point in the concrete toward the box. Make the cuts about 1 1/2 inches deep. Stop the cuts at the threshold of the garage door.

Then, with a hammer and a cold chisel, chip out the concrete and dig a shallow trench, 6 inches or so deep, to the box. Cut a hole in the aluminum box for the pipe to enter the dry well.

Glue a floor drain to a 90-degree sweep elbow and extend a piece of PVC from the other end of the elbow into the box. To prevent dirt from leaching into the box, seal the opening around the pipe with plumber’s putty. Backfill the hole, making sure to tamp the soil firmly.

Then cover the drain with tape to prevent concrete from entering the pipe when you replace the concrete over the trench. Mix and pour enough Redi-Mix concrete to cover the trench. Smooth the concrete with a steel trowel.

Leveling the walkway

An alternative to installing a drain is to flatten out the low spot with a vinyl concrete compound especially made for leveling concrete. This product is available at home centers and at well-stocked hardware stores. You’ll need the leveling compound, concrete adhesive and a wood float.

The material must be applied to a clean surface. Wet the area, scrub it with a stiff brush and allow the surface to dry. Using adhesive is necessary to ensure a stable bond between the old concrete and the patch.

Apply the adhesive to the low spot according to manufacturer’s instructions. Finish by mixing the leveling compound and float it into the depression, making sure to finish it even with the surrounding area.

Because applying leveling compound is quick and inexpensive, we suggest you try this route first. If that doesn’t work to your satisfaction, try installing the drain.


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription