Winter is just around the corner, and that means the weather here in Raleigh, NC, is only going to get colder, wetter, and more ferocious. Making sure your home is equipped to cope with the winter weather is absolutely essential, but many people forget about their window wells. Your basement windows let in much-needed light, and egress window systems serve as code-compliant emergency exits. But if you don’t take care of them and their corresponding window wells (which all windows below ground level have), they could also let in water and dampness.
These wells should have built-in drainage systems that prevent them from filling with water when heavy rainfall, flooding, or snowfall rolls around. Most do, of course, unless they were poorly or cheaply built, but their drainage systems can become clogged over time as a result of irregular maintenance. This leads to them filling with water. Here’s what you can do about clogged or flooded basement window wells.
How to Prevent Flooded Basement Window Wells
Broadly speaking, preventing your basement window wells from flooding or filling with water isn’t too hard if you keep their drainage systems in good repair and invest in good window well covers to keep out debris.
Window Well Drains
Every basement window with a well should have window well drains installed. These can be connected to either interior or exterior drainage systems that funnel any water that collects in the window well away from the property perimeter. If you have the right window well drains, you should never see water buildup in your window wells.
However, if you do not have window well covers, these drains can quickly become blocked by debris from your yard. This is especially likely in fall when the increased shed of leaves can mix with damp weather to create a mulch or pulp that will get into your drains and clog them.
Window Well Covers
The most important function of these attachments is not to keep water from getting into your window wells, but to prevent debris like leaves, trash, and grass clippings out. While you can buy a plastic bubble cover from any hardware store, they are flimsy and will break very easily. As such, you will need to replace them pretty much every year.
If you instead get a basement specialist to supply you with high-quality covers designed to fit your well specifically, you’ll probably never have to change them.
Unclogging Flooded Basement Window Wells
Of course, no matter how diligent you are, there’s always a chance you will have to deal with flooded basement window wells at some point; even the best of us might let debris build up now and then. Here’s what to do if you find that your basement window wells have flooded.
Clear Out Visible Debris
Start by removing any floating debris or large chunks of debris with a scoop or net. This debris is unlikely to be the cause of your clogged drains precisely because it is visible, but removing it is essential to ensuring that you can remove hidden debris quickly, safely, and with minimal mess.
Lift Debris from the Bottom of the Well
The debris at the very bottom of the well is most likely to be inhibiting or stopping water from draining, so it’s important that you get rid of it quickly. You should wear gloves while doing this. Once you have removed this debris, water should begin to drain without your intervention.
Get Rid of the Water
If the water is still draining slowly, or not draining at all, 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.
That’s where Tar Heel Basement Systems can come in. Our team of experts will find the best solutions for every home. When you call us out to look at your home, whether it’s your basement, walls, or window wells, you can rest easy knowing that we can help you find a permanent repair solution. All you need to do is book a free inspection appointment.