Learn how to prevent basement flooding, fires and other kinds of damage with these simple, preventive steps.
It’s an unfortunate fact every homeowner soon discovers: basements need to be protected. Everything from rain and snow to drainage systems and electrical outlets can put your basement at risk of water damage, fires, foundation cracks and much more.
What’s not unfortunate is that there are easy steps you can take to prevent both small damage and large disasters in your basement. Use these methods to prepare your basement for whatever nature (and you) throw at it.
Keep your drainage systems clear
Protecting your basement begins higher than you might think. When leaves build up in your gutters and downspouts, rainwater spills over and seeps into your foundation walls—and snow buildup can do the same thing if it melts all at once. This means that fall and the end of winter are the most important times for gutter maintenance. Right before spring, clear your roof and decks of any snow buildup, and watch for leaves clogging your gutters throughout autumn.
You can also extend your downspouts a few feet out to direct the water runoff further from your home.
Watch your watering systems
Water is water, no matter where it comes from. This means a sprinkler or a hose can do just as much damage as bad weather. Make sure your sprinkler system is installed in a way that prevents excess water from pooling next to your foundation walls and window wells. You should also periodically check your pipes and faucet for leaks.
Monitor the base of your home
Sometimes, potential threats to your basement aren’t as obvious as a giant pile of snow. This is why it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the ground. Pay attention to your yard when it’s raining. Where is the water going? If you notice that water tends to pool around your home, then your basement is at risk. To prevent moisture damage, make sure the soil slopes away from your home and the top of your window wells sit three to four inches above the ground.
Just like with your gutters, snow is the most dangerous to basements when it melts. While the snow is still frozen, clear a five-foot perimeter around your home. This will prevent water seepage when the spring sun gets to work on your snowy yard.
Look for signs of wall damage
To keep your basement completely dry, it’s vital you monitor your foundation walls—both inside and out. There are many waterproofing products designed to keep moisture out of porous concrete, and you can use epoxy fillers to patch any existing cracks. If the fissures in your walls are particularly large, consider calling a professional to evaluate the problem before it gets worse.
Secure your window wells
Basement windows are a prime place for water to sneak into your home. This is why you need to boost your window protection by ensuring all subfloor windows are thoroughly and properly sealed. To ward against strong winds, shatterproof security film is a fantastic way to strengthen glass and keep your windows secure against flying debris.
It’s also a great idea to safeguard your window wells with protective covers. Covers with decorative security bars protect window wells from debris—and polycarbonate covers offer additional protection from pooling rain and snow buildup.
Protect your pipes
Now that you’ve taken care of threats from above, it’s time to go a little deeper. Your basement is the central hub for the pipes that run throughout your home—which means it’s the most at risk if something happens to one of them. You can help keep them healthy and your basement safe by installing a water softener, insulating exposed pipes and disconnecting and draining exterior hoses before winter.
Fireproof your basement
It’s not just the cold and wet that can damage your basement. Basement fires also pose a great threat to both your home and loved ones. Increase your fire protection by taking simple steps—like installing both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and keeping any flammable materials at least three feet away from all heating equipment.
Take a few more just-in-case precautions
To ensure your basement stays as safe as possible, there are a few extra measures you can take. If basement flooding is a big concern for you, install floor drains or a sump pump to quickly remove water from your basement. You should also get flood insurance if regular flooding is a common problem in your area.
Take steps now to prevent disaster later
Taking these small, simple steps can prevent potentially thousands of dollars in water, fire and other kinds of basement damage—and every little bit helps. Ensure you have the best window wells available to help you keep your basement safe for years to come.