Tips on common basement flooding causes and how to fix them
Guest post by A&E; Construction
Checking Your Basement’s Flooding Capacity
Most basement flooding problems are simply drainage problems on the outside of your house. Therefore, the first step is to start on the outside by examining the exterior perimeter. Check that you have a good slope in place to direct water away from the foundation walls.
Also check your gutters to make sure that they are not clogged and that downspouts are directed away from the house so that discharged water will flow away, rather than towards your home.
After observing the perimeter of your house, if you happen to note any ground depressions or water puddling near the foundation, there are 3 basic steps that you can take to correct this.
How to Correct the Inflow of Water towards your House:
1. Rake back any mulch and then add new top soil that is tamped and sloped away from your house.
2. Install 3” of landscape plastic around the perimeter of your home. Following this, rake back mulch or stone to reduce erosion (this will also add nice curb appeal to the look of your home).
3. Another tip that will reduce drainage issues is connecting your down spouts with underground pipes to lower areas away from the foundation.
Preventing Flooding: A Guide to Sump Pump Installation
If water still accumulates in your basement after you’ve addressed drainage problems, sump pumps will need to be included in your drainage strategy.
What to be Aware of Before Installing:
In order for your sump pump to work well, there must be good communication under and around the basement concrete slab. Most houses today are currently built with the sump pit installed before the basement concrete slab is poured so that the crushed stone and perimeter pipe tie into the sump pit.
Older homes often have sump pump problems because their basements do not include either open or closed perimeter drains (sometime referred to as “French Drains”).
An open French drain is simply a slot of concrete cutout to the subsoil level around the outside of the basement that routes water to the sump pit for pumping to the outside of the house.
A closed French drain is designed the same way but may include drilling of the lower wall block to relieve water pressure. Closed French drains are also effective because they contain corrugated plastic that captures and directs water into the trough slot. Another non-drainage benefit of the closed French drain system is that it contains possible radon gas.
A basement without the French drain system is prone to poor drainage under the concrete slab. The concrete slabs in older basements generally lack good communication to the sump pit because they are poured directly on top of subsoil.
Setting Up your Sump Pump System:
If you have good drainage to the sump pit, we have a few steps to guide you in setting up your system. For an emergency backup system to be effective, it requires a consistent setup.
We recommend 2 submersible pumps, set at 2 levels with 2 separate discharge pipes and on 2 separate electrical circuits. Setting up your system like this can protect your basement from the many pitfalls that result in sump pump failure.
How this Works:
Installing 2 sumps at different levels protects your house against single pump failure and doubles the pumping capacity if flooding should occur.
Putting 2 separate discharge pipes in protects against possible line blockage from snow, ice or leaves. These pipes will also increase the water discharge volume by reducing back pressure in the case that flooding occurs and both pumps are running.
Plugging each pump into a separate electrical circuit protects your home against electrical failure. If your pump should fail, you run the risk that it will likely trip the circuit breaker. Should this happen when your pumps are connected into just one circuit, you will lose both pumps.
Purchasing a portable electric generator and several long extension cords are key to being able to run your pumps and refrigerator during a power outage. A portable generator is often a better idea than a battery backup system because most battery backup systems don’t have the same longevity or amperage required to pump water for a significant amount of time.
Once you install your sump pump, a final recommendation is contacting your homeowner’s insurance company and having them add “Backup of Sewer & Drains Rider” to your policy (costs approximately $50-$75 more each year). This added insurance covers your house in the event that electrical power goes out and/or your sump pump fails due to some mechanical failure.