How to Drain Water from A Sunken Patio?

There are few perks of home ownership as enjoyable as having your own patio to extend your living space, entertain guests and increase your property value.

But what happens when your patio takes on too much water and starts to sink?

sunken patio

When you’re making the most of your outdoor Shangri-la, unwinding after a hard day at work, or having a fun-filled barbeque, the last thing you want to see is a sunken patio.

First of all, don’t panic.

A sunken patio is a common problem and it can be solved with a few common solutions. There’s no need to start building an ark and gathering the animals in pairs.

The best solution for your flooded patio depends on what kind of patio you have and what’s lurking underneath, but rest assured we can help you fix the problem in a few easy steps.

Concrete or Paver?

There are many different styles of patios and endless ways to furnish and customize them, that’s what makes them such a great addition to any home, isn’t it?

Modern patios are built with either of two surfaces; poured slabs of concrete or individual bricks called pavers.

Historically, patios date back to the Paleolithic Age when the first Caveman fashioned a stone patio in front of his home and saw the curb appeal of his cave go through the roof.

Unfortunately, after eight cycles of the moon, the stone patio was underwater.

Sunken patios are a universal and timeless problem. so let’s get to work. We’ll start with paver patios because they are the most popular and the easiest to fix.

Paver stones can be anything from bricks to tiles to cobblestones, and it’s easy to see why it would be easier to repair a few stones than a huge concrete slab.

But let’s be honest.

Professional patio installers will tell you that a few sunken pavers are sometimes a sign that the problem is more widespread.

The problem exposed by a few sinking pavers is most likely the base material layer directly below those pavers that were not properly laid.

Another might be sloppy excavation, and the most troubling would be fundamental drainage problems that were overlooked during construction.

There’s more to laying a patio foundation than merely excavating to the rule-of-thumb 10 inches because it may not be deep enough if you encounter junk dirt, poor soil, or foreign matter. Keep going down!

Paver Patio Pooling

When patio pavers start to sink, you’ll see pools of water form on your patio.

If the pools of standing water are always located in a specific part of the patio, you can probably just re-do the base material in that area and put the pavers back in place.

The most common cause of sinking pavers is water erosion from below, but a clever patio hack we have for you attacks the problem from above as well.

When removing an area of sunken pavers, make sure you extend the area by 16″ in every direction to include nearby pavers that may also be in danger of sinking and to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature.

Paver stones can be removed with a tool called a “paver puller,” but you can do the job just as well using long flat-head screwdrivers or metal putty knives.

How to Remove a Patio Paver?

To extract a paver brick or stone using a paver-puller, fit the tool’s jaws on either side of the paver’s joint lines, squeeze the long arms together firmly, and pull as hard as you can.

It’s like a really humongous tooth extraction that doesn’t hurt at all.

To remove a paving brick using flat-head screwdrivers or putty knives, dig the ends of the tools into either side of the brick’s joint lines and pry that sucker out slowly but surely until you can get your hands around it.

Consider buying a paver-puller only if you have a large number of pavers to remove at the same time.

Remember to leave a layer of sand around the perimeter of the sunken pavers as a reference point before you remove the bedding layer and replace the gravel base.

Every step of the way, keep your stones and your exposed bed clean by scraping the ground for debris, and by clinking the pavers together to get rid of the dust and dirt.

If you’ve ever seen a professional patio installer at work, you’ll know that’s the reason they tap the bricks together so often.

Next, add gravel to the depression, tamp with your hand, add more gravel, more tamping, more gravel…until you’re up to the proper level. After filling and tamping, pour on fresh concrete sand, always keeping things on the level.

How to Replace a Patio Paver?

It’s easy to replace your patio blocks or bricks like a pro, just do what the professionals do more clinking. A seasoned patio installer briskly re-lays the bricks by clinking the edge of one against the edge of the one he just laid.

Upon hearing the clink, he knows the stones are touching and he drops it in for a tight fit.

When all the new pavers are in place, make sure they’re seated firmly on the base layers by hand-tamping for several minutes. This will ensure your pavers don’t sink again.

The next step involves joint sand to seal the joints between your pavers, and here’s where our modern hack can save you a major headache down the road. Think of patio paver joint sand as the “grout” that holds your pavers together.

It’s not rocket science, but it is science. We all know that water expands when frozen, so any water that gets underneath your patio bricks remains above the bedding and has nowhere to go.

If it freezes, watch out!

Our solution is to replace your current joint sand with modern water-resistant Polymeric sand and put an end to surface seepage and trapped ice. (You’re welcome.)

How to Drain a Sunken Concrete Patio?

If you have a sunken concrete patio, you’re not alone. Concrete patios are currently very trendy, and draining them can be a major headache.

Luckily, there is a solution for every underwater patio today. But just a few decades ago, the only way to fix a sunken concrete patio was to rent a few jackhammers and a dump truck, break up the concrete and haul it away, and start from scratch with a smarter drainage plan.

Still, the allure of a concrete patio’s smooth, professional finish and low cost/low maintenance promise has more homeowners choosing poured concrete than any other surface.

A concrete patio, however, is only low maintenance until it’s not, which is about 15-20 years. For comparison, a paver patio can last up to 100 or more years, and an old-fashioned pea gravel patio can last forever.

In any case, you already have a patio and a flooding problem so let’s examine your options for draining your concrete patio,

If part or all of your concrete patio ends up underwater after heavy rainfall, it isn’t draining properly.

If you don’t fix the underlying problem, that same water can seep into your home through the basement, and you will get soaked financially.

If you can see pools of standing water across an otherwise smooth concrete surface, the answer is to slope that area to allow the water to drain away in the same a rain gutter re-directs a downpour.

Do you seem to remember your patio draining like a racehorse after a heavy rain, when it was newer, but now appears sluggish?

That’s a sure sign of a blockage in your patio drainage system.

It makes no difference if the debris clogging up your system is man-made litter or the roots of nearby shrubs, you can keep it out by installing narrower grating on any drains in the immediate area.

Much Cheaper Than Starting Over

If you’ve decided that the old-timers’ method of fixing a sunken concrete patio by destroying it and rebuilding from scratch is not an option, try the next best thing – mud injections.

The “mud” used nowadays is actually a long-lasting mix of mud, cement, and rock, and it’s injected or forced under the concrete to elevate the patio.

The bad news is that these mud treatments leave unsightly holes at the injection sites; the good news is that they work like Botox, smoothing out imperfections and making your patio look younger.

A newer option for concrete patios is called Polyurethane Concrete Raising (PCR). Similar to the mud injection method, this space-age material lifts the concrete patio slabs more accurately and efficiently than mud.

Polyurethane is more stable, lighter, and much easier to work with. Additionally, the PCR method leaves unnoticeable holes at the injection sites and cuts the curing cycle to a fraction of the time.

In fact, Polyurethane Concrete Raising is the technology used to keep airport runways in perfect shape.

Sprucing up your concrete patio with PCR injections is so easy that even a DIY novice could handle the job because the polyurethane does the work. You drill dime-sized holes in the concrete patio and inject the polyurethane foam.

The foam expands to fill all the cracks and crevices under the slab and raises it enough to keep water at bay. As a bonus, PCR is eco-friendly and will never shrink.

Re-Think So You Don’t Re-Sink

It’s possible your concrete patio was built with no drainage system in mind, and again you’re not alone.

Contractors all over the country have been installing patios for decades without asking the simple question, “Where will the water end up?”

However, it’s never too late to install a drainage system for your concrete patio, and here’s how:

  1. Assess the situation after heavy rainfall and make a diagram of your patio with the standing water highlighted.
  2. Create a drainage slope by cutting the concrete into a channel that uses gravity to drain your sunken patio
  3. Disguise the drainage channel by filling it with fancy gravel or colorful stones

An alternative to decorative filler is to use metal channel drains that act like underground rain gutters and are installed flush with your patio so no one trips over them.

Just like rain gutters, they drain your sunken patio but keep garbage and debris out.

Finally, we have the technology to manufacture porous concrete slabs and absorptive concrete pavers which will make installation a breeze and sunken patios a relic of the past. Seize the technology!

Asphalt: An Old Favorite with New Possibilities

Although asphalt patios have been around as long as paved roads, they are gaining popularity quickly now that the cost of everything is on the rise.

An asphalt patio is much cheaper than a concrete patio and much, much cheaper than a paver stone patio.

Years ago, consumer rolled their eyes at the suggestion of installing an asphalt patio. After all, no one wants their patio to look like a convenience store parking lot.

Nowadays, landscaping professionals use an ultra-high-grade of asphalt and coat it with matte or glossy finishes in a variety of styles. Plus, asphalt is ridiculously easy to pour and patch.

To see how striking a jet-black patio looks with white or bright patio furniture, Google “asphalt patio images.”


There, wasn’t that easy?

You don’t have to answer.

We know that patio repair and drainage is difficult…and time-consuming…and expensive!

But a properly designed patio is a place of joy that only requires routine maintenance and will provide decades of relaxing fun with a minimum of upkeep.

We hope this article will serve as an overview of patio drainage problems and a springboard for discussion.

Now that you know the methodology and lingo of patio repair, you’ll know what the technician is talking about, and you’ll know exactly what to ask the hardware clerk

No matter what kind of patio you own, or your budget, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for a free consultation.

Explain your situation and ask if he can help design a solution to your sunken patio that involves you doing most of the heavy lifting and digging.

Unlike most repair service technicians, many patio services are willing to help you acquire the materials and tools you need to keep your patio high and dry all year round.

Good luck in all your endeavors, and remember that a sunken patio is not the end of the world. If an underwater patio is the biggest problem you have on your property, consider yourself lucky!

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