Wet basement, do something about it now!

Even a small amount of water can be a big problem

          Living in the metro DC area has it’s own set of problems. One of them is the “wet basement”.  Now, I am not talking about a wet basement that is caused by a plumbing problem, i.e. hot water heater leaking, pipes leaking, faucets leaking, etc. This is also not in reference to a leaky roof or window or door.  Those issues are of a different nature but if you have water coming in the house, they may be the culprit. If you eliminate them, the source is the area I am covering. If you have a wet basement, do something about it now.  Water is a temporary problem, mold is forever.

          Every home that has a basement in the DC area was constructed in pretty much the same fashion.  A hole was dug in the earth and a foundation was poured or built.  The foundation is necessary to support the home.  The problem arises when water seeps in the home around the foundation.  It usually does not occur in the early years of a home.  You see, once the foundation is complete, the dirt that was removed is back filled in the empty space around the foundation.

This is an example of the area around your home.

         This is the area that you can deal with without the help of high priced professionals. Let me be clear, you may not be able to solve the problem, but chances are you can do enough to prevent basement flooding. You have to do your best to prevent water from spending time on that loose soil area.  Most of the water that finds it’s way into your home does not fall directly from the sky into the loose soil area surrounding your home.  The biggest culprit is the roof over your head.  If you have a home that is 20 X 50 with a standard pitch roof, there is approximately 1200 square feet of surface up there.  Every inch of it is covered when it rains.  Think about that for a moment.  If it only rains 1/10th of an inch, you have to multiply that 1/10th by 1200 square feet.  That is a a lot of water.  Of course it runs down to the gutters. If the gutters are clean, the water travels to the downspout and down to the ground.


If you keep your gutters clean and downspouts clear, the system in place will work. 


          Where the water drains is the most important piece of the puzzle.  Most homes have splash pans beneath the downspout to disperse the water that comes out.  The splash pan is not a solution that works. Water from the downspouts must be moved away from the home by at a minimum of 6 feet.  You have to move the water away from the loose soil area so it will not seep back into the area around the foundation.  It will find a way into your home if it is allowed to drain there.


          You can use a downspout extender.  You have to be sure that where it ends is a lower point than the side of your house.  There is no point dumping water up hill, it will just run back to the lower point.  No yard is perfect, but with a little ingenuity you can move the water away from the foundation.



Rain barrels

          If all else fails, you can capture the rainwater from your roof using rain barrels.  The water collected can then be used watering the lawn or plants.  It is a “green” way to reduce your wet basement problem.

          Regardless of the method you choose, if you have a wet basement, do something now!

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