How to Prevent a Flooded Basement: A 10 Step Guide by Water Damage Experts

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last Updated on

If you were anywhere near the city last June, you remember the severe storms and flooding that shut down Eisenhower Expressway. The river was out of its banks, and we had two tornado warnings that night.

As Chicago’s leading restoration contractor, our teams were busy after the deluge answering calls from folks with flooded basements. We cleaned up a lot of water damage that could have been prevented.

Are you ready for next time?

Based on our years of experience handling residential flood damage, we know that you can minimize the risk of basement storm flooding. That’s why we’ve put together this 10-step guide outlining how to prevent a flooded basement. We want you to be ready for the next downpour.

1. Walk in the Rain

If you don’t know that there’s a problem, you can’t solve it. The next time it rains, grab an umbrella, and walk around your property. You should see water channeling away from the house on all sides. If your tour doesn’t yield the sights of a well-drained yard, you need to take action.

2. Grade Your Ground

negative drainage water damage

Correct drainage problems in the yard by correcting its grade. You want the landscape’s slope to direct water away from the house and foundation on all sides, and this can often be taken care of by building simple negative drainage. If grading isn’t enough, talk with a landscape professional about trenching options or French drains.

3. Don’t Crowd the Foundation

Garden beds against exterior walls can develop areas that puddle up with rainwater or channel around the house during a downpour. Mulch is a moisture-retaining culprit too. Your home’s foundation and siding act like wicks when they’re constantly exposed to damp. The materials eventually crack and peel, and that leaves them vulnerable to the pressures of heavy rainstorms.

4. Watch Your Steps

If your basement has an outside stairway, keep the drain at the bottom of its steps free of clogs. Otherwise, the stairwell can quickly flood and push water underneath the basement door. Check the door’s concrete threshold to make sure that it hasn’t cracked or eroded over time. A little concrete subsill repair can keep out the few inches of rain that it takes to flood your basement.

5. Cover the Windows

Drain installations in below-grade basement windows channel rainfall to a weeping tile system and on to the basement’s sump pump or a street storm sewer. Add an extra layer of defense with clear acrylic covers over the window wells. They protect the recessed areas from heavy downpours, and that eases the stress on system components that protect your basement.

6. Permanently Patch Cracks

cracked foundation house

Yes, cracks in the foundation will eventually lead to basement flooding. Yes, you can repair them yourself, but you want a permanent fix. Hardware stores sell kits that turn you into a patching pro with DIY epoxy injection systems. Treat interior basement wall cracks with a masonry coating to seal the deal on foundation crack problems.

7. Hit the Gutters

No one enjoys cleaning out gutters and downspouts, but no one wants a flooded basement. Think of climbing the ladder as more than just an attack on debris that clogs your roof’s drainage system. You’re defending gutters from heavy rains that turn them into waterfalls washing down exterior walls and soaking your home’s foundation.

8. Pamper Your Pump

One of the surest ways to prevent basement flooding is to install a sump pump, but it needs regular attention to make sure that it’s ready to go to work. If your pump is below grade, be sure to keep its well cleaned out. If you rely on a portable model, locate it in the lowest part of the basement securely connected to a power source.

9. Redirect Rainfall Drainage

You took care of the downspouts, so you know that they’ll channel heavy rain away from the house. Extend their reach with corrugated plastic pipe that directs rainfall at least 10 feet away from the foundation. Put that same distance between the basement and the sump pump with a discharge hose kit.

10. Generate Backup Power

The sump pump is your last line of defense against basement flooding until you lose power. A generator can be a smart investment now in protection from extensive water damage later. While a portable model is less expensive and keeps the pump running, a larger stand-by can keep the whole house powered up. They both have pros and cons, so consider your budget and your needs.

If Your Basement Floods

ServiceMaster by Zaba truck

We know that even the best preventative strategies can’t always keep water out of the basement, but we want to help you handle as much as you can when things get too wet. From dealing with a flooded basement and choosing the best clog-busting tools to providing important facts about floods, we’re on your side.

Our goal is to give you practical ideas for protecting your basement that you can put into action right now. We enjoy sharing useful information, and your ideas and input are always welcome through our Comments Section.

We all hope that the summer weather behaves, but if you need professional water damage repair after basement flooding, you can depend on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. We’re here for you with the best water damage restoration in Chicago and the suburbs 24/7. Our teams are always ready for your call at 773-647-1985.

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