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Window Wells: How to Prevent from Flooding


Having windows and window wells in your foundation makes a huge difference in your basement.

Window wells let in natural light.  That’s not usually enough to completely illuminate the basement space but it prevents the place from feeling like a dungeon. They also allow for ventilation in the basement, which prevents a stuffy and musty atmosphere.

If the home has an emergency egress way, it creates a means of escape from fire or other disaster.

However, windows also represent a breach in the foundation wall and, if the wells are flooding, that water can end up in the basement.


Preventing Basement Wells from Flooding

A well is sized appropriately for the window and bolted securely to the foundation of the wall. It features a functioning drain that carries water into a drain tile system or out to daylight.

A wrong-sized well is a rare occurrence.  As long as the window well liner is wide enough to be attached to the foundation wall and not the window itself and high enough to extend above ground level it should not present any problems.

If, however, the liner can detach from the foundation wall due to rusted fasteners or improper installation. Then soil pressure can widen the gap between the loose liner and the wall and force water into the well when the soil becomes over saturated.

Fixing this requires some digging and either reinstalling or replacing the window well liner.

The most common reason for window wells flooding  is a clogged or missing drain.

A well should have a central drain that is either connected to an interior or exterior drain tile system or to a line that runs to a storm water drain or out to daylight.

Sometimes, in “quick-and-dirty” construction or remodeling, a contractor will slap in a  well without a drain simply to allow light in through the window.  This is a bad idea because the first heavy rain will likely turn that window into a pool of water.  We specialize in egress ways for basements and properly install your well.

Debris such as leaves and soil becomes clogged in the drain and will cause it to run slowly or not at all.

Obviously, the only cure for a missing drain is to put one in.  Preventing a drain, either new or existing, from clogging is as simple as installing a well cover.

A well cover keeps debris out of the well, prevents weed growth and serves as a deterrent to small animals making their home there.

Skip the plastic bubble cover. They rarely fit well, break easily and often create a “terrarium” for weeds in the window well.  They will stand up to bad weather and provide lasting protection for the window well and ultimately, the basement.