Sound Ag Advice

With many parts of North Dakota seeing significant late-spring snow and rain, problems can arise when that snow melts and puddles. Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension agriculture engineer joins Sound Ag Advice to offer strategies to move water away from homes and rural properties.

What is Sound Ag Advice?

“Sound Ag Advice” presented by the NDSU Extension Service features NDSU Extension specialists and staff talking about current crop and livestock issues. “Sound Ag Advice” is free and can be used in any way you see fit.

Speaker 1: Kelli Anderson, NDSU Agriculture Communication Specialist
Speaker 2: Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension Agricultural Engineer

Kelli: This is Sound Ag Advice, a weekly feature provided by NDSU Extension. I'm Kelli Anderson, and my guest this week is Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension Service agriculture engineer. Today we're going to be talking about preventing snow melt water problems in and around your home and yard. So Ken, let's first talk a little bit about snow on the ground. How much snow? Are we talking about? How much water does that equate to in around someone's home or yard?
Ken: It's surprising if we get drifting snow that's kind of compacted a little bit, we're gonna be looking at two to three gallons of water in every cubic foot of snow, so it can start adding up very quickly. If we have a pile of snow that is close to the house, we could be looking at 1000's of gallons of water that would either be flowing toward the home or away from the home depending on how the ground is sloped next to the house.

Kelli: So Ken with our current conditions, what are some tips to prevent water problems around the home?

Ken: It's going to vary a lot across the state. If we're in the southeast corner of the state, we've had a nice warm snow melt already that maybe has triggered some pumps and we'll touch on that in just a moment. Other areas we may have had some snow melt but we've got additional snow that is accumulated on the roof and many times we don't realize how much water comes off of the roof if we have a foot of snow uniform across 1000 square foot roof.

That can be about 2500 gallons of water that comes off the house comes off the roof through the gutters, down through the downspouts so one of the things that I encourage people to look at is making sure the gutter system is not plugged, and then extending the downspouts ideally about 10 feet away from the house so that the water is flowing away from the house rather than toward the house that water can soak down and create all kinds of problems in the basement. And that's where the sump pump system then would trigger.

Kelli: Ken, you mentioned sump pumps, what are some things that homeowners can do to ensure that their sump pump is running properly to help remove some of that water?

Ken: If it isn't running at this point, I'd encourage them to go through kind of a spring test of that pump make sure that the sump is clean, and that it functions, it may mean pouring some running water into that sump pit so that it will trigger the sump pump and we can see that that system is functioning correctly. We need to be getting the water that comes out of that sump pump away from the house making sure that everything is functioning and again, we have information available on our website. Some videos that will walk you through step by step things to check with a sump pump.

Kelli: Any last thoughts about removing water from rural areas or rural yards, anything different about that versus urban homes?

Ken: The principles are going to be the same whether we're talking a home in the country or a home in town and we have a lot of good information on our website. So do a search for NDSU Extension Service and for flooding is where a lot of that information is. We've got articles and videos that will walk you through many of the steps that we need to be doing to make sure that our home can handle the water as we go through the spring melt.

Kelli: Again, today our guest has been Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension Service agriculture engineer. This has been Sound Ag Advice a weekly feature provided by NDSU Extension.