We all know basement flooding can be a serious and an expensive problem. It's estimated that insurance claims totaling well over $1 billion are filed annually for basement flooding with individual claims averaging around $5000 and many a lot higher.
How Water Gets Into a Basement
Water often gets into basements after a heavy rain or in northern climates when temperatures rise suddenly and snow melts rapidly. It usually gets in as a result of a leak in your home's basement walls in combination with any of the following:
- Eavestroughs/gutters that overflow or leaking/plugged downspouts that stop water from running off
- Poor lot drainage
- Failure of a sump used to pump weeping tile water
- A back-up of wastewater in the sewer system.
It sounds crazy, but the best way to stop your basement from flooding is to check out your roof and work your way down to the ground and then take a look at your home's plumbing system.
Gutters and Downspouts
These are designed to take runoff water from your roof and channel it away from your home's foundation. Without gutters, run off water will fall right at the edge of your foundation, soaking the ground and possibly eventually working its way into the basement. Be sure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned out so water can flow freely and won't get trapped and overflow them. Also, the discharge of the downspouts should be onto a hard surface (i.e. driveway), at least 3 feet away from the house walls.
Grading the Land Around Your House
The land around your house should slope away from the foundation walls (6 inches per 10 feet), so that any water will tend to run away from the foundation. You can increase the grade around you home simply by adding soil close to your home and sloping it away. By directing runoff water away from your foundation you'll help keep water away from the concrete and minimize the chances of the moisture causing cracks in the walls over time.
Maintaining Sump Pumps
If you have a sump pump, make sure you keep the intake clean and at least once a year, clean out any build up in the sump pit. Remember, if your sump pump gets blocked it's the same as not having a pump at all. Also, make sure the discharge pipe for your pump is at least 6 feet away from your foundation, so you don't pump the same water over and over again.
Floodproofing Your Basement
A backwater valve will stop water and sewage in an overloaded sewer line from flooding back into your basement. As water rises in the drains, the valve automatically closes and blocks the water from getting up the drain. Correctly installed backwater valves can prevent flooding through not only floor drains, but also toilets, sinks, and even laundry tubs. Preventing basement flooding usually isn't a difficult job and homeowners can do most of the work themselves. When you consider the cost a flooded basement, it's well worth investing the time.