Preventative Steps To Protect Your Basement During Spring

Spring is in the air for most of the country, although it certainly does not feel like spring at the moment as I watch the flurries falling outside from my office window… ok it is a cubical. Soon enough the temperatures will warm up and we will say ado to old man winter. However, as the adage goes, April shows bring May flowers, it can also bring water into your basement.

Statistically, basement leakage is one of the most common problems found in houses. In fact, approximately 90% of all basements will leak or at one time or another (National Restoration Network, 2012). Primarily this is caused by water that collects at the surface level against the foundation of the building. Typically this is from rainwater that has drained off the roof to close to the foundation. The surface water can easily flow back around the basement walls saturating the ground. Once the ground is saturated, the water can seep into the basement through cracks or open joints within the foundation.

How can you prevent this from happening? Normally, the best solution is to intercept the water before it becomes a problem and redirect the flow away from the house. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Under most circumstances, directing any water away from the building is a good start to minimizing the amount of water that can come into contact with the basement walls. Through the use of gutters, downspouts, or French drains, the water can be carried away from the foundation. Depending on the grade of the surrounding area about 6-feet should be a good distance.

While gutters and downspouts will remove the majority of the rainfall away from the house, you will still need to use a sump-pump to remove additional water around the foundation and move it to a safe distance of 6-feet or more. A sump pump is used to remove water that has accumulated in water collecting sump basin via perimeter drains of a waterproofing system.

Here are some tips to help prevent your basement flooding:

1. Make sure that your gutters are free of debris and that the downspouts or French drains are positioned to displace any water at lease 3 – 6 feet away from the house.
2. Annually inspect your sump pump to ensure it is functionally properly. This includes making sure that no debris has been introduced into the sump basin and that the float is not sticking or jammed.
3. Locate and repair any foundation cracks with epoxy.
4. Have your home sewer line inspected and cleaned by a licensed plumber.
5. Have an emergency generator that is tested annually to ensure that should the power go out your sump pump will continue operating.
6. Make sure that if you are in a flood zone, that you have the proper type and amount of insurance.

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3 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    Don’t underestimate the need to keep your gutter clean. I find you typically have to clean them several time per year. In early spring and then again in late spring after all the plants have finished blooming (a lot of airborn seeds and other stuff gets stuck in your gutters). I also typically clean once at end of summer and then again once before old man winter sets in. I also owened an older home once which had some seepage coming in a well window which only occured during extremely heavy rains. The correct and expensive fix would have been to dig up the windown well and ensure the french drain was working properly. The cheap fix was to seal the window with silcone caulk (cost me a few bucks).

  2. Suganya says:

    This is a nice article. Thanks for sharing.
    How do i avoid the basement bugs? Any ideas? Even with a clean tiled floor and freshly painted walls, i see lot of bugs across the baseboard in the basement. Any suggestions to keep it clean?

  3. Barry says:

    Insects like most living organisms on the planet require three essential things to survive: a place for shelter, food, and water. From the aforementioned list, water or moisture is the easiest to remove; which over time will make the environment inhospitable to your uninvited guests. I would suggest using a dehumidifier, to reduce the amount of moisture in the basement. It would also be helpful to look for any other sources where moisture might be found like under utility sink, or around sump-pumps, or leaky pipes in the crawl space. By reducing the amount of moisture you should see a reduction in the amount of bugs.

    While eliminating moisture is a significant part to removing the pests from your basement, it is important to address the other two items in the list. Removing access to shelter will also reduce the amount of bugs you will find in your basement. When spring arrives, go outside and look for any cracks around your house and seal them with a good epoxy. You will find tips on this in the “Springtime Home Maintenance and Repair” blog on this site, along with some other annual tasks that you should do around the house when spring arrives. Another area that many homeowners miss is around utilities and where plumbing may enter the house. Check the seals to make sure they have not rotted or cracked. If there is any evidence of wear, remove the existing seal and replace with an outdoor epoxy sealant. On the inside of the house where these lines enter your basement, turn the lights off to see if you can see any light coming through from the outside. Once you are sure that would have a good seal on the outside of the house add some interior caulking around the entry points inside the house. This will help reduce the possibility that any bugs will get in anytime soon. Oh, don’t forget to check around your dryer vent. Make sure that the vents are closing correctly.

    Finally, the last piece is to eliminate any food sources. Bugs that are normally found in your basement often find their food source outside. Make sure to keep your foliage trimmed and away from the house, and to keep any mulch at least 18” from the foundation of the house. In the fall, make sure to clean away any leaves that may have fallen and accumulated against the foundation. As the leaves decay they become very attractive to bugs looking for food.

    Of course, moisture elimination is only part of the pest-proofing equation. It’s also important to remove offerings of shelter that may be lurking in and around your basement. Most spiders and insects come into the lower levels of homes through cracks and crevices. Walk around the exterior of your home and use caulk to seal any openings you see. Pay particular attention to holes from utility lines and plumbing that come into your home. To check your work, stand in your basement with the lights off. If you see any streams of light coming in, grab the caulking gun and seal things a little tighter. If you see a lot of cobwebs in a certain area, there’s a good chance there’s a pest entry point nearby. Don’t forget to check your dryer vents. If they remain open, you have practically rolled out the red carpet for pests.

    The last component of pest proofing is the elimination of food sources. When it comes to food for spiders and other insects that often infest basements, natural sources are outdoors. Be sure to keep foliage trimmed back from your home and keep mulch 18 inches from the foundation of your house. As the leaves come down, be sure to remove them from gathering around your house, as decaying leaf piles are very attractive to pests.

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