Spring rain and summer storms are great for the garden, but a wet basement is never a good surprise. Here are some tips to prevent flooding and dampness in your basement.
- Install gutters! Also, clean your gutters so they don’t overflow and cause water to pool around your foundation. Always remove leaves and debris. Install leaf guards and downspout extenders at least several feet away from your house so water is directed 10 feet from your house.
- Change the grade of your yard. Does your property slant towards your house or away from it? The surrounding soil should pitch away from the house at a slope of at least ¼ inch per foot so the water does not drain towards your foundation. If not, you need to have soil brought onto your property and added until the grade is highest at the house’s perimeter. Then rake it smooth and seed or sod.
- Shade trees with aggressive roots (such as silver maples) should be planted at least 20 feet from your house to protect your foundation. Smaller species, like white fir, require only 10 to 15 feet of clearance.
- Look for cracks in the foundation wall. These are the obvious reasons for water leakage. Pointing (cementing the cracks of) an old stone foundation may help to limit the water that gets in. To cement the cracks, chip along the crack in order to widen it (to about ¾”) and deepen it (to about ½”). This is the only way to get the hydraulic cement to adequately hold in place. If you have major cracks, you may need to contact a professional.
- If air is musty or mildewy, run an electric fan to help improve air movement. (Be sure to turn it off when you leave for an extended period of time.) You can also run a dehumidifier downstairs and, ideally, air conditioning will help dehumidify the air. Also improve the ventilation by installing screens and keeping foundation windows open.
- Wrap all cold-water pipes (which have a tendency to sweat and drip water) with fiberglass insulation or foam sleeves. If possible, insulate valve bodies as well, but leave valve handles exposed.
- Make sure window wells are kept free from debris which will prevent water from draining. Consider installing window exhaust fans.
- Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors.
- Fill a couple of cloth bags (roughly the size of a grocery bag) with calcium chloride and hang them from the ceiling to absorb moisture.
Have you experienced a wet basement recently? What were the causes and solutions? Please share with us and the Almanac community.