When heavy rain hits, keep an eye on your basement and crawl spaces
Saskatchewan and Alberta residents got what they asked for… heavy rain to assist in the forest fire situations. Although it may have been what we wanted to help with our local farmers crops, water our lawns, our gardens and plants.. there are many things to keep an eye out for when we get so much in such a little time.
The Southern Saskatchewan & Alberta areas got around 3-7 inches of rain in just under 24 hours. The first thing to understand is that standard eavestroughs can sometimes overflow even when they’re installed correctly and kept perfectly clean. The size and shape of what’s commonly installed is not always sufficient to handle really large rains of the sort we’ve been getting the last couple days, especially if your roof is wide and gathers a lot of water. We hear about this design deficiency cause trouble all the time, and it can cause water damage to your roof, and seep into the windows and sometimes the siding of your home. Although wide, large-capacity gutters and downspouts are made for industrial buildings, it’s expensive and troublesome to have these put onto your home. But why should we have to build outside the box in order to enjoy eavestrough systems that can reliably handle heavy rains? You might consider adding another downspout. Downspouts are often a limiting factor when it comes to drainage capacity, so adding a second unit can offer relief.
Downspouts are usually vertical and usually extend down to ground level. The water is directed away from the building’s foundation, to protect the foundations from water damage. The water is usually piped to a sewer, or let into the ground through seepage. Keep an eye on the downspout that it doesn’t flow directly into your home and have a way for the water to build up and eventually seep into your basement windows or crawlspaces. The water should always be directed in a position in which the water can flow away from the home, if your home is built on a level surface you may wish to consider getting a longer downspout to assist in directing it further away from your home.
Most builders would agree that water leaking into the basement is a common issue. Homeowners and builders are continually looking for ways to utilize every square inch of potential living space. As a result, basements are frequently being converted into useable space. Thus, designing to keep basements dry is more important than ever. Most homeowners know the basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to what they should do when mother nature isn’t being as cooperative as we would like. But, even the most advanced homeowner can have isseus when we get down pours like we have seen recently. Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare for a flash flood, and rains that can cause heavy extensive damage to your homes. This is why it is very important to check regularly on your roof, basement or crawl space for moisture, water leakage and if your home has a sump pump in it. Make sure it is doing what it needs to do on a regular basis if you can so that when you need it, it’s working!
Homeowners often finish their basements to create more living space for a bedroom, family room, hobbies like the sewing room and more. That’s when you really start to focus on keeping your basement dry although it’s important for everyone, even if your basement isn’t finished. That’s why you want to learn how to keep your home and basement dry.
For every inch of rain, the average roof sheds 1,000 gallons of water. You can imagine how much standing water will pool around your foundation and find ways to get into your home. Gutters are key to catching and directing this water away from your home. There are many other things that help keep your basement dry.
Keeping Your Home and Basement Dry
Don’t look at this list and think you can pick one or 2 items. If you don’t have basement windows below ground, then you don’t need window wells. Otherwise you need to implement all of these solutions as they work together to minimize the chances of water entering your basement from above. For water that gets through your foundation wall because the water table rises above the floor of your basement, see the Building Requirements for New Construction below.
- Gutters – direct water to downspouts which direct water to the ground, and ideally away from the house. If your ground doesn’t slope enough, use a diverter or consider adding below ground drainage pipes.
- Grading – the area around the house so it slopes away from your foundation. You need at least a 6 inch drop over 10 feet for good drainage.
- Foundation cracks – in masonry walls can be repaired using hydraulic cement.
- Window wells – need gravel for good drainage and/or covers to divert excess water away.
- Driveways/walkways – should always slope away from the house
- Landscaping – should be designed to allow water near the foundation to evaporate.
When Water Gets Inside Your Home
When water gets inside, you want to remove it quickly to minimize the risk of mold, mildew, termites and other unhealthy side effects. Many of the following projects are fairly easy to implement:
- Dehumidifiers – remove water from hot, humid air. Save time by installing the unit on a wall near the utility sink so it can drain continuously.
- Insulation – should be wrapped around cold-water tanks, water pipes and cold air ducts to reduce water condensation.
- Waterproofing – can be accomplished by painting concrete walls and floors with 2 coats of a water-locking, masonry paint like Drylok. There are lots of color choices but make sure you get right product, i.e. walls and floors have different requirements.
Keeping Your Basement Dry
When you find inches of water in your basement, a sump pump can remove the water quickly. A portable pump works well if this happens rarely, i.e. when the hot water heater breaks. If you get water every few years, a sump pump provides cost effective peace of mind. All pumps use some type of float activated switch that turns the pump on when the water reaches a certain height. They should also have a check valve to insure water doesn’t flow backwards from the water outlet pipe.
- Selection – permanent pump choices include upright or submersible, plastic or cast iron and electric powered versus water powered (sometimes installed as a backup system). Pick one based on the frequency and volume of water you anticipate – a 1/3 horsepower pump is satisfactory for most homes. For more details
- Installation – requires a sump pit (roughly 2 feet square and 2 feet deep) in the basement floor, a discharge pipe (into a dry well or storm drain at least 20 feet away from the house), an electrical outlet with GFI. A sump pump cover helps eliminate odors and keep debris from falling on top of the pump.
- Maintenance – should start with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically you want to test the pump every 2 to 3 months, or right before each rainy season. Make sure the float is not restricted, that the pump is discharging water and clean all screens/openings. Listen for any strange noises from the motor.
Building Requirements for New Construction (and Serious Water Problems)
These techniques are best implemented during new construction or when remodeling. Existing homes with significant water problems will need a specialty contractor to add one/more of these solutions to an existing home.
- Footing drain – is a 4 inch diameter perforated drainpipe embedded in gravel. The pipe needs to sit on top or alongside the footings and below the basement slab
- Foundations – should be waterproofed below ground level which is easily done before the site is backfilled
- Perimeter/interior drains – involve perforated drainpipe, installed over gravel, around the foundation. Water collected should be directed to the sump pump for removal.
If water has been sitting in your basement or crawlspace for over 24 hours that’s when mold growth begins to occur. After more than 72 hours an environmental assessment must be performed to make sure the air in your home isn’t contaminated. contact us. In addition, if you recently had your home remediated for mold and/or abated for asbestos and want to ensure that the contractor you hired did a proper job, contact us for Post-Remediation Verification, to ensure that the work was done right.