Flood-Proofing Your Basement

A flooded basement can be a homeowner’s nightmare. Potential problems range from loss of household goods to ongoing structural issues to other effects of water damage including mold growth. Whether a home is near a body of water or uphill in the middle of the city, some type of flooding due to cracks in walls, overflowing gutters, or backed up sewer lines can occur. Take time this spring to flood-proof your basement and help prevent flooding that can result in costly repairs.

Landscape Strategically

Avoid planting plants and shrubs too close to the house. Constant brushing up against the side of the house can damage siding or crack the foundation. Roots of plants too close to exterior walls might restrict the flow of water away from your home.

Install a French Drain

If the lawn, especially near the foundation, retains rainwater two to three days after a rainfall, it could be a sign of drainage issues. If the water is allowed to pool, it might eventually seep into the basement. Install a French drain – an underground drain in the form of a trench or pipe – to direct groundwater away from your home’s exterior.

Install a Backwater Valve

Municipal sewer lines that back up into residential basements can make a terrible mess. A backwater valve closes off sewer lines, helping to prevent such a disaster.

Install a Sump Pump

A sump pump removes accumulated moisture, rainwater, and groundwater from the basement. It typically directs the water from inside the house to the outside, away from the foundation.

Places where Water might Enter

Water can enter a basement or basement apartment through cracks in the foundation. It can also seep in through gaps around window frames.

Repairing foundation cracks with sealant, either interior or exterior, is often a short-term fix. When cracks are pronounced, the foundation typically needs to be repaired by a professional.

To stop moisture from getting in through windows, apply caulk. Check for warping or rot: if it is too advanced, consider replacing the windows.

Proper Grading

As a general rule of thumb, the ground 1.8 m (6 ft) from the foundation of your home should be lower by at least 7.6 cm (3 in). When the grade slopes toward rather than away from the foundation, there is the danger of water penetration, resulting in serious flooding.

Install a Downspout Extension

When downspouts end too close to the foundation, water that doesn’t drain away properly can pool underneath the downpipes. If pooled rainwater seeps into the basement, flooding, mold growth, and other problems associated with water damage can occur. To prevent this from happening, install a downspout extension – an attachment to the downspout, allowing water to be deposited further away from a home’s foundation.

Keep the Gutters Clean

One of the three most common reasons for a flooded basement is overflowing gutters. Your gutter system can’t work the way it should if it’s clogged with leaves and dirt. When gutters and downspouts become blocked, rainwater backs up in the system and overflows over the sides of the gutters. Debris buildup can also cause gutters to sag to such an extent that they separate from the fascia, falling to the ground and letting water seep in around the foundation.