Prevent Basement Flooding

Causes and Solutions for a Wet Basement

July 22, 2018
Basement Flooding

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Make sure window wells are kept free from debris which will prevent water from draining. Consider installing window exhaust fans.
  8. Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors.
  9. 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.


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few yrs back came home from

few yrs back came home from the hot state of Ariz; after a week of being in a 1910 carriage house; basement paid off halfway up on furnace....had to crib it...thank the lord i knew how...3 weeks of buckets...5 get out...because it has no real foundation am trying to figure out ways to keep water away from house...what a pain....but success will feel so wonderful

I am a flood and water

I am a flood and water disaster management paraprofessional. In my experience the best defense for flooding in your basement or crawl space begins with your gutters, get the water three or four feet away from your house so that any standing water is at least three or four feet away. The next line of defense is the grading around your house make sure that you have 3 or 4 inches of fall in the soil around your house so that there is no standing water three or four feet around your house. Do not be fooled by your landscape mulch or rock if the soil underneath falls back to the house seawater will also it needs to be backfilled. This usually alleviates most problems keeping water from getting to the foundation itself. If you have an east or south facing gable so that rain can blow against the house bypassing gutters you may want to put plastic under your landscaping to keep that three or four foot barrier around your house dry on top of the backfill. I do agree with the comment previously there any cracks in the foundation need to be filled to avoid getting moisture in the crawl space. With that said I categorically refute opening the foundation vents " Ever ". Because in the summer when it's hot and humid the humidity outside is drawn into the cooler crawlspace and then condensates on all the metal piping water lines, air conditioning, gas lines causing moisture in crawl space that over time can lead to mold growth and wrought. When we do repair and clean up we usually cover over the vents with plastic running down the foundation wall starting at the floor joist and then covering all the dirt to avoid moisture coming up from the ground turning the crawl space into a semi conditioned space. In the winter months the heat will naturally dry it out and it will stay dry as long as moisture does not get inside the crawl space, and you can maintain that semi conditioned space. Then you will not need to call someone in such as myself to repair damages :-).

Thank you for the post. If

Thank you for the post. If your basement has flooded, there are some really relevant things you should know. When in doubt, don't enter the flooded area until you are told it is safe . First and foremost, you have to consider your family's health and safety because entering a wet basement could be dangerous. Therefore, before you enter your basement, you have to consider if there is an electrical shock or structural damage. This is to ensure your family's safety and avoid accidents to happen. To shun basement flooding in the future, you should reduce household water use during heavy rains and seal the cracks in your foundation walls and floor. 

sorry; basement was not

sorry; basement was not paid off from the rain and snow...dirt...u know....there is no support to this place...constant battle to keep erect....oh well, life goes on and so does alot of physical and financial labor