Tropical Storm Nicole is brushing past Maryland today, and many people are experiencing basement flooding as a result. Any basement can flood, given the “right” conditions. To keep the water out, you need to think about controlling its path as it falls on your house.
- The ground adjacent to the foundation should slope down and away between 1/2″ and 1″ per linear foot. So, six feet away from the foundation, the ground level should be between six and 12 inches lower than right at the foundation wall.
- Make sure gutters and downspouts are kept clear. If you have underground drain pipes, use a garden hose on a dry day to test whether the pipe is draining properly.
- If you have basement windows with window wells, make sure the walls of the window well extend a few inches above the level of the surrounding soil. Keep the window well clear of debris, and consider installing a clear plastic dome over the well to keep water and debris out.
- Sunken and mulched flower beds close to the foundation walls can hold a lot of water, which could then seep into the foundation wall. Make sure any planting beds close to the house can drain properly away from the house.
- Keep exterior stairwells and drains clear of leaves and debris.
If All Else Fails
If you’ve done all the above measures and are still having water infiltration issues, you might need to consult with a professional regarding installing a waterproofing system. These may include French or curtain drains, which involve extensive exterior ground excavation and waterproofing barriers. You may also need a hydrostatic pressure relief system, which pumps water away from the foundation. These systems are not designed to stop water completely, but they do keep it under control. Be sure to get several opinions and estimates on systems before deciding to have one installed.
An Ounce of Prevention
One simple way to prevent most water damage in a basement is to keep everything off the floor several inches. Never keep cardboard boxes directly on the floor, and do a thorough basement inspection periodically to catch any potential problems before they become major.