Dealing With Basement Water After a Downpour

Insurance industry statistics include the startling fact that 98% of homes with a basement will experience basement water damage at some time. Frequently, the damaging water originates from heavy rain outside. As ground surrounding the house becomes deeply saturated during a downpour, wet soil presses inward against basement walls and leakage becomes more likely. An extended period of rain may also temporarily raise the level of natural groundwater, causing hydrostatic pressure that pushes seepage upward through the basement floor.

Chronic rain-related basement water damage can deteriorate basement walls and floor, spawn toxic mold growth inside the space, and ruin wiring and other house electrical components. Appliances like washing machines installed there—as well as valuable possessions stored in the basement—are also at risk.

Here are some suggestions to help prevent basement water damage:

  • Keep gutters clean and intact. During rain, water from clogged and/or leaky gutters pounds the ground around the perimeter of the house and leaks into the basement.  
  • Install downspout extenders. Where basement water damage is a problem, gutter downspout extenders should be installed to discharge water at least five feet from the house.
  • Grade landscape away from the house. Proper grading drains pooling water that saturates soil away from the foundation and basement walls. For adequate drainage to prevent basement water damage, the ground should be graded to establish a downward slope away from the house of about six inches over the first 10 feet.
  • Have basement walls repaired. Various DIY brush-on sealants can be applied to basement walls to help inhibit leakage during rain. However, these methods are unlikely to be totally effective unless cracks and gaps in the walls are located and professionally repaired first.
  • Get a sump pump. A sump pump installed in the basement floor helps prevent basement water damage in two ways. As rising groundwater during heavy rain is collected in the sump basin, the pump automatically actuates to remove water and discharge it away from the house. A sump pump also protects against basement flooding from interior sources such as ruptured water supply lines.

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