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How to Keep Heavy Rain Out of a Basement

Jul 7, 2014 • By Matthew Stock.

Rain Falling

A quick look out the window confirms the weather forecast – it’s raining.  Again.

It’s not just a light sprinkle or a quick shower, either.  It’s good old-fashioned, thunder-and-lighting, trees-bent-in-half, gully-washer of a summer thunderstorm.  In other words, it’s pouring.

A rainstorm like this one often causes homeowners to worry about leaks in the roof, flooding in the back yard and, yes, water in the basement.   Some are so anxious about leaks in the basement that they run down to check every few hours – or even every few minutes.

In many cases, they are right to be concerned.  Water in the basement is one of the most common problems faced by homeowners and is potentially one of the most destructive.   Not only can seepage destroy flooring and furnishings in a finished basement, it can damage stored goods and create a perfect environment for the growth of mold.

Of course, homeowners can take steps to prevent basement seepage before it happens and many of the precautions that will help keep a basement dry are neither difficult nor costly.  In any event, it’s better to keep rain out of the basement than it is to get rid of it once it’s there.

Keep Rain Out of a Basement with Water Management Techniques

There’s nothing a homeowner can do to prevent heavy rainfall so the secret to keeping rain out of the basement is making sure that the rain water is directed away from the house by all possible means.  The area approximately 10 feet wide surrounding the home is particularly vulnerable to water absorption because it’s the site of the original backfilled excavation for the homes foundation and the soil takes a long time to compact like the undisturbed soil around it.   Therefore, keeping water at least 10 feet away from the house is important.

One very basic way to keep heavy rain out of a basement is to make sure that the rain gutters are clean and flowing freely.  A heavy rain may drop as much as 600 gallons of water per hour on every 1,000 square feet of roof surface and all that water has to go somewhere.  Rain gutters are designed to collect the water as it runs off the roof and transport it to downspouts located around the home.

If the gutters are clogged or blocked, the water has nowhere to go except to pour off the edges of the roof and fall onto the ground below, right next to the foundation.  Water in this kind of volume will very quickly permeate the soil around the foundation and end up in the basement.  Regular cleaning and maintenance to the gutters will ensure that rain water is properly disposed of.

Of course, whether the gutters are clean or clogged becomes less important if the downspouts they lead to come to an abrupt end right at the corner of the house.  When downspouts dump water next to the foundation the problem is worsened because all that water being picked up by the gutters is being concentrated in only several spots, which will lead to oversaturation of the soil around the downspout and, of course, water in the basement.

Extending downspouts beyond the ten-foot margin will go a long way toward keeping rain out of a basement.  Aboveground extensions from the big box store work OK but are prone to being knocked off by lawnmowers and wind gusts and are unsightly to say the least.  Having a professional install underground extensions that terminate in a bubbler pot or dry well will ensure that rain water is being carried beyond the “zone of failure” and that heavy rains will be kept out of the basement.

In addition, making sure that landscaping, hardscape and plantings are not trapping water close to the foundation and maintaining a lawn that slopes away from the house will help to keep heavy rain out of a basement.

Of course, cleaning and maintaining gutters is a job for a do-it-yourselfer or a handyman but a homeowner who wants to make sure to keep rain out of his or her basement will need the advice and services of a professional basement waterproofing contractor.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we have more than 57 years’ experience, not only in fixing basement seepage once it occurs but in keeping rain out of the basement as well.  Why not ask for our free advice?

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