Skip to Main Content

How to Prevent and Repair Clogged Basement Window Wells

installed egress window well cover

Your basement windows let in much-needed light and an emergency exit. Most cities require window wells to be placed along each basement window. Unfortunately, these window wells don’t always work as intended.

Without the proper tools and maintenance, they can become clogged and lead to unwanted moisture issues in your basement. If this sounds like something you’re dealing with, you’ve come to the right place.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to handle clogged basement window wells. We’ll give you practical steps to take and effective solutions to install. Let’s get started!

2 Steps to Prevent Clogged Basement Window Wells 

Broadly speaking, preventing your basement window wells from clogging or flooding with water isn’t too hard if you keep their drainage systems in good repair and invest in durable window well covers to keep out debris. 

1. Install Window Well Drains 

Not all window wells come with drainage. Some simply have gravel or stone at the bottom which allows water to permeate after it is captured. But this isn’t always the most effective process, especially if you live in a particularly wet area.

If you want to have a better chance at avoiding a flooded basement, consider installing window well drains. These drains can be connected to your already existing interior or exterior drainage systems, allowing water to be efficiently funneled away from the base of your home. 

Be aware, there is a chance these drains can become blocked by debris from your yard. This is especially likely in autumn when falling leaves, soil, and damp weather mix together to create a soggy mess that can fall into your drains and clog them. Installing window well covers will help you avoid this issue, and we’ll cover how these work next.

2. Utilize Window Well Covers 

Window wells aren’t required to be installed with a cover, so they usually have a wide open gap at the top. This can be an issue for a number of reasons:

  • Heavy amounts of rain or snow can fill up the window well.
  • Children or animals could fall into the window well.
  • Debris has an easier chance of getting into the window well and causing clogs.

As you can see, window well covers play an important role in protecting basement windows. You might not need one if you live in a dry area, but even so, they make the area around your home much safer by preventing the chance of injury.

If your area is prone to wet weather, it’s a good idea to consider well covers if you want the most protection against basement flooding. The best window well covers are made of high-quality, sturdy materials like plastic or metal. Make sure to talk to a basement specialist to make the best decision for your window well.

installed egress window well cover

3 Ways to Unclog Flooded Basement Window Wells 

Window wells that are installed without additional protection are much more prone to clogging. Without a cover or proper drainage, debris from trees, dirt from the yard, and even pests could make their way into the window well. This makes it harder for water to drain away from the window well and it may build up right next to your basement windows.

Imagine what happens if you ignore clogging. Water is powerful when it builds and builds—you’ll likely end up with leaking windows or bowing basement walls. Unclogging your basement window wells isn’t too hard. Here’s what you can do.

1. Clear Out Visible Debris 

Start by removing any floating debris or large chunks of debris with a scoop or net. This debris isn’t always the direct cause of clogging (because it is visible), but removing it makes it easier to access debris further down in the window well.

Removing this debris also prevents it from getting caught further down in the well and becoming part of the clogging problem. Not to mention, removing visible debris just makes the window well look nicer and function better overall.

2. Remove Debris from the Bottom of the Well 

Once you remove the surface debris, move on to debris caught deeper in the well. It’s important to regularly check your window wells for debris caught at the bottom of the well as it is the biggest factor that stops captured water from draining.

You should wear gloves while doing this and take necessary precautions to avoid damage to the well itself. You could call a professional to take care of the problem if you don’t feel comfortable working in the well. Once you have removed this debris, water should begin to drain again.

3. Get Rid of Excess Water 

If the water is still draining slowly after you have removed all visible debris, then it’s likely that the blockage is inside the drain. At this point, you need to drain the well before you can investigate (unless you want to try a pipe snake). You could either pump the water out, open the basement window, and clean up the water once it hits the floor (which is less than ideal), or call a professional. 

Work With Tar Heel Basement Systems for Effective Basement Waterproofing Solutions

If you need help identifying issues with your basement window wells, or you’re looking for other solutions designed to prevent flooding in your basement, consider working with Tar Heel Basement Systems. We provide free home inspections where we’ll explain the issues your home is facing and come up with a plan to address your home’s unique needs.

Since 2003, we’ve been helping homeowners in North Carolina achieve dry, protected basements. We’re always ready for the next challenge, and if your basement window wells are giving you trouble, contact us today to schedule your free inspection. You don’t have to keep dealing with a flooded basement when you work with us, that’s our promise!

Basement Window Wells


Generally, basement window wells should be at least 8 inches deeper than the window itself and about 6 inches wider than the window. Sometimes, these dimensions could be bigger based on your yard and home location. Professionals will be able to determine the best measurements to ensure water is captured quickly and efficiently as to avoid basement flooding after rain or snow.

Yes, window wells should be attached to the foundation. This ensures that they don’t become loose or wash away during a heavy storm. When professionals install a window well, they will attach it to your foundation. Don’t try to do this task using DIY methods, as the wells might not be installed correctly and it could cause foundation issues for your home.

It depends on the material used. Plastic window well covers are usually transparent, so they won’t block sunlight from getting into your basement. Metal covers are more likely to block sunlight, but it all depends on the design. Do some looking around and talk to a professional if you have any doubts!

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

TarHeel Basement Systems Service Map

Our Locations

Fayetteville Location

3400 Walsh Pky, Suite 220
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

North Raleigh

208 Millbrook Rd. Suite C
Raleigh, NC 27609

Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Wilmington Location

2155 Enterprise Dr. NE
Leland, NC 28451

Winston-salem / High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103