I periodically read in disclosure statements that water has entered the lower level through a window well. This normally happens in older homes, where the well does not have a drain system installed. In heavy rains, the window well may fill up and start to leak into the house through the window. Windows in residential homes are not built to be waterproof- water will seep through them. This may cause wet drywall, carpet and personal belongings. In addition, the concern for mold growth is always present. Homeowners are now expected to disclose in the disclosure statement that the basement walls got wet in this way.
What is the solution? Window well covers are helpful, but not completely waterproof. In a stiff wind, they will blow off and with heavy hail, they can be damaged. A better solution is removing the soil and debris that has built up over the years at the bottom of the window well. Removing 6-8” of soil and adding rock or gravel will allow the moisture to seep into the window well and not enter the house through the window. Solid earth or dirt is not as porous as the gravel, so replacing the dirt with gravel will allow the water to escape more easily and not pool at the window.
In addition, the structure or outer rim of the window well should be higher than the grade. This will prevent surface water from flooding the window well.
This minor maintenance may save the homeowner from a lot of potential headaches in the future.
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