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7 Steps to Help Prevent Basement Flooding

Basement flooding can happen quickly without warning, and can be extremely expensive. Damages due to flooding often take days or weeks to repair. Homeowners must also worry about mold spores, which appear roughly 24-48 hours after a flood. Even small amounts of mold can aggravate asthma or cause other serious health issues. The good news: the risk of basement flooding can be reduced with only a few precautionary measures.

1. Shunt water away from foundations

Cleaning gutters can be an annoying task, but routinely removing leaves and twigs from your gutters and downspouts will help rain and snow to drain properly and will keep water from pooling up against the foundation.

As a rule of thumb, water should be diverted at least three feet away from a foundation. To achieve this, homeowners usually must purchase downspout extensions or troughs that will carry the run-off further into the yard.

2. Evaluate the landscaping

Grading in construction and landscaping terms refers to the height and slope of the dirt around a house. High grading will allow water to push over a basement wall or over foundation waterproofing, while the slope of grading determines whether groundwater flows away from the foundation, or towards the foundation.

Patios and walkways that are slanted towards the foundation can divert gallons of water towards a foundation. There are multiple services that can slope patios to drain away from the house without spending a fortune.

3. Have foundation cracks repaired

Vertical shrinkage cracks in poured concrete are normal. However, shrinkage cracks can be a way for water to enter a home. Regular inspections of all basement walls for wet cracks is recommended. Homeowners can tell if moisture is seeping through a crack by the darker colored concrete directly around the crack. Wet cracks should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further foundation damage and water infiltration.

4. Routinely check and replace your sump pump

Basement flooding due to sump pump failure is the most common type of flooding. Sump pumps need to be regularly checked for functionality, especially if the pump runs multiple times a day. Sump pumps that run only once or twice in a day, may be able to last four or five years, but sump pumps that run once or twice an hour may only have a lifespan of one or two years. Keep in mind that insurance policies don’t typically cover water damage due to a sump pump failure.

When choosing a sump pump look for a submersible pump if your sump pump pit has the space. Submersible pumps allow the pit to be covered by an airtight lid, which decreases noise, keeps moist air from getting into your home, and helps prevent mold and insect issues. Also buy a pump with a cast iron core. The cast iron helps heat to dissipate into the water, which extends the lifespan of the pump.

5. Install a generator or back-up battery

Sump pumps are run by electricity, so if there is a power outage during a storm, the pump stops pumping water out of the home. Eventually, if the power does not come back on, the water gathering in the sump pit will overflow into the basement.

Installing a secondary pump is recommended for very wet basements. Secondary pumps are installed directly next to the primary pump, so that if the primary pump fails or is overwhelmed, the secondary pump will kick on. Installing a generator or back-up battery is recommended for homes that are prone to power outages. Generators and back-up batteries provide a source of power when the electricity fails. Back-up batteries can last up to 24 hours, depended on how much the pump runs during a power outage. Some lines of back-up batteries can also send text alerts to the homeowner in the event that the power goes out.

6. Keep sewer lines clean

Regularly having sewer systems cleaned will prevent surprise sewer back-ups. Homeowners are often surprised when their sewer overflows because they have a sump pump. The systems are not connected at all, and both require maintenance.

7. Install window well covers

All newer homes are built with a large window in the basement, in case of fire or other emergencies. The well around this window can become flooded with rain or run off, which may pool up around the window and seep into the basement. Homeowners should look for a clear, acrylic window well cover, which will allow light into the basement, while keeping rain out.

Basement Flooding Clean-Up
Basement Water Infiltration: The Basics