There are a lot of misconceptions about how wet basements happen in Chicago. Some homeowners think that the joint between a paved sidewalk or gangway and their home needs to be caulked to keep water out. Others have been told that because their home sits a little lower than the neighbors’ that a wet basement is inevitable.
These “facts” are, of course, not true. Wet basements are caused by water in the soil surrounding the basement and there are a number of points of entry: Cracks in concrete walls and floor, deteriorating mortar joints in masonry walls, poorly fitted windows, the cove joint where foundation walls meet the footings and others. One way a Chicago homeowner can avoid a wet basement is to prevent rain and snowmelt from being absorbed into the soil by creating good yard drainage.
5 Ways Yard Drainage Can Prevent Wet Basements in Chicago
- Keep Gutters Flowing – Sounds like a no-brainer but the place to start proper yard drainage is on the roof. If rain gutters are clogged with leaves, pine needles or other debris they will not carry water to the downspouts. Instead, the rain water flowing off the roof will spill over the edge and soak into the ground next to the foundation. Next stop? The basement. On a typical Chicago home one inch of rain dumps as much as 1500 gallons of water on the roof; that’s more than 27 fifty-five gallon drums worth of water! If that comes into the basement – hello, indoor swimming pool.
- Extend Downspouts Away from the House – Even if the gutters are spotless and flowing, all that rainwater is being disposed of through an average of four downspouts. If those downspouts are discharging right next to the foundation, the situation may be even worse than if the gutters were stuffed with last fall’s leaves. To avoid dumping water at each corner of the house, the wise Chicago homeowner will extend downspouts at least 10 feet from the foundation. Underground downspout extensions will avoid unsightly plastic snakes all over the lawn and eliminate the possibility of their being knocked off by playing kids or careless landscapers.
- Drain Negative Slopes – If nature or a heedless grading job have left a Chicago home with a lawn that slopes toward it instead of away, the flow of water toward the home and its absorption by surrounding soil is inevitable. One way to stem the tide is to install a ground drain parallel to the home that will catch the flow before it reaches the zone of failure. This drain and its underground pipes will carry the water to daylight a safe distance away.
- Eliminate Ponding on the Lawn – Many lawns in Chicago have the occasional low spot where water lies when it rains. This ponding water will eventually be absorbed into the soil and end up you-know-where. Installing a below-ground drain in low areas will keep water away from the home and carry it to storm sewers or to a convenient drainage spot far from the foundation.
- Stop Water Absorption Next to the House – Even if gutters are flowing and downspouts are properly extended, heavy rains, like those famous summer thunderstorms, can overwhelm them and create wet basements for Chicago homeowners. Installing a lined drain below ground aligned with home’s roofline will catch these heavy overflows and carry the water away from the foundation – and the basement.
Most Chicago homeowners can clean their own gutters but, when it comes to more advanced yard drainage solutions, the best bet for preventing wet basements in Chicago is to take advantage of the expertise of a professional basement waterproofing contractor that knows how to do yard drainage right. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been preventing wet basements in Chicago since 1957 and have solved yard drainage problems for thousands of our more than 300,000 satisfied customers. Why not ask for our free advice?