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How to Prevent Water Damage in the Basement

Flooded basements can be an enormous headache that damages valuable belongings and create health hazards due to standing water and sewage backup. Luckily, most homeowners can prevent basement flooding with some basic home improvements.

Clogged gutters and downspouts that don’t drain away from the house can cause basement leaks, while grading the yard to slope away from its foundation may help too.

Get in touch now for basement flooding solutions in Chicago, IL, and set up a schedule service with J. Blanton Plumbing.

Gutters and downspouts

Gutter and downspout systems exist to channel rainwater away from house foundations, however, if they become clogged or the downspouts end too close to them then rain may overflow from gutters into walls of the foundation and cause basement flooding.

Keep your gutters clear of debris and add downspout extensions that direct rainwater 5-6 feet from the foundation walls. Regrade soil around the foundation every few years so it slants away from the home.

Water leaks can be the cause of basement flooding, but you can reduce your risk by replacing old tank-type water heaters before they rust, switching out rubber washing machine supply hoses with PVC ones, and installing interior drains to divert excess water to a sump pump. Your sump pump should also be regularly checked, cleaned, and tested.

Water damage in your basement can quickly lead to the growth of mildew and mold, so it is imperative that it is cleared away as quickly as possible. Use a shop vacuum designed specifically to handle water or rent one from a cleaning service in order to extract standing water or puddles of standing water from your space.

Window wells

Window wells provide natural lighting into basement windows, serve as emergency exits compliant with code requirements and help prevent water damage to buildings. Unfortunately, when they become filled with debris and blocked drains they can lead to flooding and structural damage, possibly leading to flooding as a result of structural flooding.

It is best to maintain regular window well cleanings, particularly in autumn when leaves and other debris tend to clog drains easily. Also be sure to inspect if your drain pipe is not blocked with gravel or dirt deposits.

If your drain is clogged, digging a trench away from the window well, placing a perforated drainage pipe inside, backfilling with gravel or coarse sand to promote drainage and prevent soil compaction can help solve it.

Incorporating plastic or metal window well covers that work with your drain system – ones with channels or openings which channel water directly into its drainage system is ideal – may also help in providing relief.


Immediately upon discovering that your basement has been flooded, several actions must be taken quickly in order to reduce damage and minimize waste:

Power and gas should both be shut off, along with using safety gear such as knee-high boots, rubber gloves, long pants and a mask for personal protection. A wet vacuum or sump pump may also be helpful to clear away standing water on floors and walls as soon as possible; then move furniture to safe areas before cleaning all surfaces including carpeting and rugs.

If the source of the water is plumbing-related, then calling in a plumber may be necessary. Homeowners insurance typically covers sudden burst pipes or sudden flooding from groundwater or sewer backups; however, flooding from groundwater or sewer backup may not.

Homeowners can prevent groundwater or sewer backup floods by improving exterior drainage through cleaning gutters to prevent overflow, installing downspout extensions where applicable and making sure soil around foundation slopes away from house.

A well-functioning sump pump may also help keep basement dry – regular inspection and servicing should also take place for maximum effect.

Sump pump

Installed and operating properly, basement sump pumps help prevent flooding from groundwater. Unfortunately, some do not fulfill their intended function and homeowners find themselves wading through soggy boxes of books, floating pet food bowls, and other waterlogged possessions after storms have passed.

Clogged discharge pipes are a frequent cause of sump pump failure. Once blocked, groundwater will begin slowly seeping in through the basement walls.

To maintain optimal functioning of your sump pump and avoid this type of issue, inspect its discharge pipe frequently for blockages, leaks and damage. In addition, installing a check valve could prevent water from coming back into the pump after shut-off.

If your basement water doesn’t drain away quickly or has an unpleasant odor and flows from floor drains, a sewer line clog could be to blame. A plumber can install a heavy-duty check valve to stop sewer water from backing up into your space and damaging belongings.


Jeff Campbell