7 Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding

Written by Justin Woodard of Woodard Cleaning & Restoration Services
Updated September 27, 2013
an open and clean basement with a support beam and two windows
© Martin Deja/Moment/Getty Images.

If your basement has ever flooded or been damaged by water, you know just how stressful a flood can be. But there are some simple tips you can follow to help keep your basement dry.

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With a few simple maintenance tips and a keen eye, you can greatly reduce your risk of flooding. To keep you and your basement dry, here are seven ways you can prevent basement flooding.

1. Clean and Maintain Gutters and Downspouts

Cleaning your gutters and maintaining your downspouts are essential parts of home maintenance. By keeping your gutters free of debris and ensuring downspouts are properly positioned away from the foundation, water from rain and storms will flow freely, rather than pooling up against your home.

Downspouts should direct water at least three feet away from your foundation; in most cases, using a downspout extension or trough is necessary to achieve this distance. While cleaning your gutters and maintaining your downspouts can be a bit of an annoyance, it’s a relatively simple and inexpensive task.

2. Properly Landscape Your Yard

The slope of your yard or the shape of your flower bed could be contributing to your water issues. Consider this: if the slope of your yard directs water toward your home, water will pool up around your property, and eventually find a way in. Depending on your specific landscaping issue, you may need to regrade your lawn, or even have a French drain installed.

3. Inspect and Repair Foundation Cracks

Cracks in your home’s foundation can act as an open invitation to water intrusion. To prevent basement flooding or water damage, visually inspect the exterior of your foundation, basement walls and floors on a regular basis. If you come across any cracks during your inspection, fill them with epoxy. If leaking still persists, or you encounter a more serious foundation problem, call a professional.

4. Practice Proper Sump Pump Maintenance

Sump pump failure is the most frequent cause of basement floods. If your home has a sump pump, you’ve already got a great defense in combating mold, water damage, and flooding. However, simply owning a sump pump doesn’t give you a “get out of jail free” card – you’ve got to maintain it, too.

If you know a huge storm is headed your way, check to make sure your sump pump is working properly and is plugged in. Also, consider investing in a generator for your sump pump and a replacement to keep on hand, just in case you lose power or the pump fails when you need it most. Keep in mind, if your basement floods as a result of a broken sump pump, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the damage.

a man lifting a septic tank lid off of the septic tank
© kaliantye - stock.adobe.com

5. Inspect Sewers and Clean Septic Systems

When was the last time you had your sewer inspected or your septic tank cleaned? Skipping out on sewer inspections and septic tank cleanings is a sure-fire way to invite havoc into your home, as clogs, sewer backups and overflows are bound to eventually happen with lack of maintenance.

6. Install Window Well Covers

Homes with below-grade basement windows should always be protected with window well covers. When fastened securely over your basement windows and latched onto your home’s foundation, window well covers work wonders in waterproofing your basement. To keep your basement bright, look for clear acrylic window well covers.

7. Get Familiar With Your Insurance

Do you have flood insurance? How about additional coverage for sewer backups? This won't prevent basement flooding per se, but if you don’t know the answer to either of these questions, take a few moments to review the details of your home’s insurance policy.

The Overall Lesson: Be a Proactive Homeowner

As much as we hate to say it, owning a home is never a walk in the park. Whether problems arise from flooding, fire damage or even mold growth, issues are bound to occur - after all, there’s no such thing as the “perfect home.” By being a proactive homeowner, you can spot small and easily fixable issues before they become full-blown disasters. When it comes to a dry basement, a little bit of proactiveness goes a long way.

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