Easy Fixes to Prevent Basement Dampness and Flooding

April showers might bring May flowers, but they can also bring on damp or flooding basements.

Every spring we receive a few calls from homeowners who are convinced that there’s an issue with their foundation … and almost always, that’s not the case.

Most damp or flooded basements are caused by things that are easily fixed … and even more easily prevented. Take a walk around your house and check out the following:

  • Downspouts – Clear them of leaves and other debris. If they are clogged, the water runs down the wall right into your basement. Likewise, downspouts should extend away from the house by several feet. Using the plastic “pleated” pipe you can find at any home improvement store is a great solution.
  • Make sure the grade of your lawn runs away from the house. Ideally, there should be at least 6 inches of slope within the first 10 feet away from the house. Also, it is very important to keep the grade at least 6 inches below the top of the wall or below the weep holes in the brick.  Elevating the grade (grass, mulch or hardscape) to high can cause water to run over the top of the foundation wall.
  • Sump pumps are one way to get rid of any extra moisture in your basement. Once installed, check periodically to ensure the pump fully functional and operating properly. Back up battery operated sump pumps are a great idea for those who experience frequent power outages – and remember, sump pumps should not be hooked into the sanitary sewer (allowing for sewer back ups in flooding conditions). Sump pumps should be installed to drain excess water into your yard or designated sub-surface drains.
  • During hot humid months, using a dehumidifier in the basement can reduce condensation on the walls, floors or any other cool smooth surface. This may work better after you’ve sealed air and duct leaks to reduce the amount of humid outdoor air you are bringing into the basement.

All of that said, our foundations are installed with an elaborate drainage and waterproofing system.  They are designed to prevent typical concrete shrinkage from leaking and to drain ground water.  By following these simple maintenance procedures, you significantly reduce your chance of dealing with a damp or wet basement.