Home Care Library
Window Damp Basement
The Home Wizard app calculates your ideal home care program to avoid problems with your Windows, but sometimes trouble can still occur. Here are answers to questions about window damp basement.
QUESTION FROM mdaoui
Window wells/1970's home/damp basement issues/window wells have 3 to 4 inchs of gravel in them/why is it there and would I improve conditions by removing the gravel?
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD
The gravel is there to help provide drainage of water away from your basement window. If this area had dirt or grass instead, then the water would sit there and the moisture would be around your window frame, etc. With the gravel there, the water flows through, and then this area dries out much quicker.
But if your problem is a damp basement, there maybe other things that you might want to consider to help keep water away from your foundation / basement, such as:
1) Window well covers: Here is a picture of a window well cover (http://icwdm.org/Images/equipment/Exclusion/windowwellcoverweb.jpg ). They can be made of plastic and are relatively inexpensive. If you get a clear plastic one, it will still allow light to come through your basement window. This cover will help keep water away from your windown well and the foundation in this area.
2) Rain gutters: Maintain the gutters each spring to repair damage from snow loads and each fall to clean out leaves and debris. Add extensions to downspouts to take roof run-off water 10 ft. (min. 4 ft.) Away from the foundation. Install splash blocks.
3) Grading: The soil should slope away from the house on all sides of the foundation one inch per foot for 10 ft. (min. 4 ft.). You may need a truckload of soil. Old concrete walkways, driveways or patios that slope toward the foundation should be replaced.
4) Grass: Remove flower beds, vegetable gardens, bushes and trees from around the foundations and seed the area with grass.
5) Curtain drains: Excavate a trench alongside the house and fill it with gravel to stop surface water from getting to the foundation. French drain with a perforated PVC pipe in the gravel takes surface water away from the house.
Other things beyond this can also include adding dry wells for rainwater and exterior footing drains.
Hope this is helpful.
Thanks Great Wizard for helpful ANSWER about gravel in window wells. If my small 3x20 foot entry walk garden/situated between concret walk way and exterior wall must go, would local native grasses be just as good as that short green stuff? All other suggestions were in place with exception of this walkway and small garden. Once garden comes out, intend to use curtain drain system in this area, trying to avoid removing concret walkway. Is this a project weekend warriors can handle? I really appreciate the extra details in response to question. Thank you. I will be back.
Regarding planting native grasses versus the "short green stuff" near your foundation, one thing that you will want to be careful is that the grasses do not grow high enough to touch any wood on your house. Otherwise this could form a pathway for pests and moisture to enter your house.
And regarding installing a "curtain drain", here is a webpage that has a good drawing for how to install a curtain drain:
From this page, hopefully you will be able to tell if this is the kind of job that you would like to tackle yourself. If you do decide to do it yourself, be sure to install sufficient pitch on the perforated to ensure drainage and that water doesn't end up sitting in the pipe.
Hope this is helpful.