3 Common Basement Waterproofing Issues and How to Avoid Them

August 22, 2023


Picture this. You wake up in the morning fifteen minutes late. You jump out of bed and hastily start your morning routine. You quickly shower, brush your teeth, then run to your drawer to grab some clothes for work… shoot, you forgot to empty the dryer last night. Down the stairs you go with some pep in your step. You open the basement door wondering just how wrinkly your slacks will be. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, splash. You’re ankle deep in water and your basement looks like the kitty pool on your last family vacation. You scoop your slacks up out of the water and wring them dry.

Unfortunately, this scene is not uncommon. Homeowners all over the country face basement waterproofing issues on a regular basis. The Insurance Information Institute states that water damage affects around 14,000 people per day in the United States or 1 in 60 insured homes. There are a variety of causes that may lead to water intrusion issues in your basement. According to Drycrete Waterproofing, a basement waterproofing company with 30 years of experience, the 3 most common causes of water intrusion in your basement may also be the easiest and cheapest to address.

Water Management Not Waterproofing:

Basement waterproofing isn’t about stopping water it’s about managing where it goes. Water is a powerful force and left to its own devices will deteriorate rock, move land, and devastate your home. With proper management techniques you can guide water to where you want it to be, away from your basement! There are a variety of techniques available, both interior and exterior, to manage water on your property. In this article we’ll focus on three water management techniques for your home’s exterior.

1. Bad window wells

A drainage hole in the ground

Description automatically generated with medium confidence Window wells are structures designed to allow light to enter basement windows while also preventing soil, debris, and water from pressing against the window itself. Bad window wells can mean a variety of things:

  • No window wells
  • Improper window well installation
  • Old and deteriorating window wells
  • Window wells missing components
  • Window wells with poor drainage

If your window wells are not up to par that can lead to water pooling right up against your window. The pressure of that pooling water will push on your basement window and in the best-case scenario create a slow leak into your basement. On the more catastrophic end you will see basement windows give out due to the weight of the water, causing serious flooding.

What do good window wells look like?

To know if you have bad window wells you will have to know what good window wells look like. When you properly install a window well you dig at least 2 feet down then fill the hole with good drainage material, such as crushed stone, leaving 6 to 8 inches of foundation exposed beneath your window.

Your window well should be positioned high enough so that water cannot easily flow over the top. The height extension, or lip of your window well, should extend 8 to 12 inches above the soil. Then you should install a cover secured to your home that will direct water away from the inside of your window well.

The last thing you should do is grade the soil around your window well so that it slopes away from the well. You can use hard packed soil or backfill the area with more drainage material to discourage pooling water.

2. Bad gutters and downspouts

Gutters are designed to capture rainwater that flows down the roof and channel it into downspouts, which direct the water away from the building. Improperly installed, old, or clogged gutters and downspouts can cause that channeled water to fall directly against your foundation. That pooling water can go over the top of your foundation wall, seep through cracks or rusted tie rods, and further worsen your grading issues.

Downspouts should also be appropriately directed away from your home to discourage exterior drainage issues. You can buy downspout extensions from your local home improvement store or go the extra mile by having underground discharge lines direct water to a drywell or other designated drainage area on your property.

A pipe coming out of a house

Description automatically generated

3. Poor grading

Grading refers to the slope of the land surrounding a house. Proper grading is crucial for effective water management, as it directs rainwater away from the foundation and basement walls. When grading is inadequate or slopes towards the house, water can flow toward the basement, increasing the risk of water infiltration.

If you notice water pooling near your foundation this is a huge sign that you need to address grading issues on your property. Grading is listed at number 3 because it should be corrected after addressing the other issues that can lead to further soil erosion near your foundation. Addressing bad grading involves re-grading the landscape to ensure that water naturally flows away from the house.

A building with a lawn and a road

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

In conclusion

By addressing poor window well installation, damaged or clogged gutters and downspouts, and improper grading you will be well on your way to effectively managing water and keeping your basement dry as a bone. These issues are common amongst homeowners and are a leading cause of water intrusion issues. Don’t panic. Look for warning signs and identify the cause of your waterproofing issues. Address them using the proper techniques. Cutting corners when it comes to basement waterproofing will not pay off in the end. If in doubt contact a professional for help addressing your waterproofing needs.


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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