Window Wells & Window Well Drains
Basement windows can provide many important benefits – as a source of natural light, fresh air and sometimes a means of egress in an emergency. It is critical to install a window well system to prevent water infiltration, especially if the windows are located at or below grade. Window wells also prevent moisture damage to the windows themselves by keeping soil away from them and yet allowing for proper grading and drainage away from the foundation walls.
A window well is a semi-circular excavation and barrier system typically made from galvanized steel, masonry or polycarbonate that surrounds the outside of a basement window. New window well installations should include drains to channel water away from the basement. Most accumulated water should drain to the weeping tile system and then be removed via the basement sump pump or storm sewer.
DETERMINING THE NEED FOR WINDOW WELLS
Aquamaster Drain, Plumbing and Waterproofing, Inc. are specialists in helping homeowners attain and keep a dry basement. Our experts can install new window wells and drains or repair existing systems. If you notice soil stains under the basement window frame, it is likely water has entered through this area. Often homeowners attribute this to window failure. This is rarely the case unless window caulking is missing or severely deteriorated. The likely reason is poor or inadequate window well drainage.
Damage can occur to window wells from freeze-thaw seasonal cycles and hydrostatic pressure. Cracks, bowing, rust, spalling and ruptures can also occur from improper drainage. Saturated window wells can then leak in through basement windows and lead to a flooded basement, mold growth, wood decay or other undesirable conditions.
FIXING THE PROBLEM
Regular maintenance of the area is necessary to keep drains open and performing properly. Keeping gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris can stop water from overflowing into the wells. Make sure you also remove dirt, leaves and other items that collect in the window well so drains don’t get clogged. When regular maintenance doesn’t solve the problem, a professional waterproofing company can correct drainage issues to existing systems. They will look for soil erosion, problems with the barrier pulling away from the foundation or insufficient/settled drainage stone. In systems where dirt instead of gravel occupies the interior well area, water will likely pool. Our experts will dig out all the dirt, clear the drain and fill the area with gravel up to four inches below the window to promote drainage. We will re-caulk the window frame to ensure a tight seal and re-grade the surrounding ground, if necessary, so runoff will shed away from the window.
Clear plastic window well covers, screens or grates are also an excellent means of preventing debris build-up. Plastic covers allow light in but keep both water and debris from entering the well. Screens or grates will allow ventilation on warm days, keep animals and heavy debris out but won’t prevent water or smaller leaves from entering.
If a drain needs to be replaced or a new one added, the process is somewhat more complicated and expensive. Two methods are available – excavation or augering. Excavation requires removal of all dirt down to the weeping tile. Augering involves drilling a hole and adding pipe down to the weeping tile. Professional services will be necessary for either method but once complete, should provide years of trouble-free drainage.