Some basements have ground-level windows to allow a little bit of extra sunlight into the area. These can be a great way to open the space and make it feel a little more comfortable, especially during the day. Window wells can allow for “ground-level” windows that are slightly below ground.
These window wells can be extremely helpful. However, if you have a leaking window well, those benefits can disappear dramatically. The leak on the inside can make a giant mess, which can make it much less comfortable to live in or be around in general.
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If you’re having issues with a leaking window well in your basement, you’re not alone. This isn’t a completely uncommon problem for many people with windows in the basement. Anyone who’s having this problem should keep reading to learn more about this problem and how to fix it.
Does Your Basement Window Leak Look Like This?
Scroll through these pictures to get a more thorough understanding of the different ways basement window wells can leak. You can see pictures of the initial damage and pictures of secondary damage that happen after the window has been leaking for some time. If you tackle these problems early with JES, you don’t have to worry about these secondary issues.
Leaking Window Well
Especially if you’re not well-versed in basement problems and waterproofing, you might have a lot of questions about your leaking basement window. Is this a problem? Why is this happening? How can I stop it? You can get all the answers to your questions here.
This is the first question many people ask when a window well starts to leak. The window well allows for a sunken-in window that gives light to your basement and sometimes allows for safe exit in case of an emergency. Why is it leaking?
There are a few reasons you might have this leaking problem. Here are the most common ones.
Clogged Basement Window Wells
Most commonly, window wells attempt to avoid water piling up and leaking into the basement by having a gravel or rock bottom to the well. This granite or rock allows the water to sink into the soil, rather than just pushing on the window.
However, you can run into a problem if this drain clogs. For example, if leaves or grass fall into the window well, they can collect at the bottom of the well and make it more difficult for water to sink into the gravel. Instead of draining, it just builds up.
This clog can quickly increase more and more until the water’s pressing against your window. From there, it’s often only a matter of time until it starts to leak in through the window in some form or another.
Heavy Rain and Flooding
Even if the granite is working as it’s supposed to, heavy rain and flooding can sometimes still cause a problem. Heavy rain is difficult for the ground to absorb; that’s why you experience flooding on the outside when you get a lot of rain all at once, especially after a drought.
This heavy rain causes a very big problem when you have a window well. Especially if you don’t have a window well cover or you have a low-quality cover, that window well welcomes in water. It can add up very quickly.
Flooding in the area causes very significant problems that aren’t limited just to your basement, but the basement is an impacted area. If you live in an area that regularly experiences heavy rain, it’s important to be proactive if you want to avoid your basement window leaking.
Snow is a very interesting problem that you might face when you’re dealing with a leaking window well. That’s because snow melting provides a very slow but very constant drip of water, which is sort of the opposite of heavy rain.
Even a well-functioning window well can sometimes have leaking problems in these situations. As the water continues to leak down the well, you might find that it sometimes makes its way into the window seal, starting to leak into the inside of your window.
You may need to take very specific measures once the snow outside starts to melt. Melting snow causes a very peculiar type of water stream that you need to pay close attention to when you’re handling water damage.
Have you ever considered that your lawn sprinklers may be contributing to water damage in your home? It might not be something you’ve thought about, but if you didn’t think very much about the way the sprinklers spray, it could actually have a measurable impact.
Sprinklers can spray water over your basement window over and over again. Like melting snow, this can cause a very slow but very constant stream of water that’s hard to defend against.
Anyone who has sprinklers near a window well needs to be on constant lookout for window well leaking. You may be able to change the way the sprinklers spray or use additional protective measures to make sure your sprinklers don’t cause basement window leaking
It can be tempting to just ignore the window well leaking, especially if it doesn’t seem to be significant. If you rarely use the basement, and it’s not leaking enough to cause standing water in the basement, why do you need to know how to fix leaking basement window wells?
The thing you may not have realized is that even this small amount can have a big impact. Here are a few of those impacts.
Excess Basement Humidity
This is one of the most significant impacts that happens when you have a window well leaking. Because you’re allowing moisture into your basement, that moisture must go somewhere. It evaporates into the air, filling the air with water vapor and therefore raising the humidity in your basement.
Excess humidity is a problem because it can lead to a variety of significant issues. These remaining problems tend to stem from excess humidity, which is what your basement window leaking allows to happen in your basement.
Mold and Mildew Growth
Mold and mildew can typically only grow in relative humidity above 75%, although this is a loose number that isn’t 100% accurate all the time. Some types of mold can grow at lower humidity, and there are certain situations that facilitate mold growth at lower humidity. One of those situations is when you have a basement window leaking.
Not only can mold and mildew grow because of the excess humidity in your basement, but it can also grow on the wet walls. If the walls stay wet, it doesn’t matter if you have a great dehumidifier. You still might end up with mold and mildew.
Insects and Debris
You might not like mold and mildew, but unfortunately, insects love it. There are many ways to let insects into your basement, and once you do, they’ll be more than happy to start eating the mold and mildew on the walls, ceiling, and any other surface.
These insects can eat through a variety of surfaces that grow mold and mildew including any items you have down there. Insects can also carry diseases, which is just another reason to fix your basement window leaking.
High Electric Bills
This is one way some people discover they have leaks in their basement or crawl space. Humid air takes more energy to condition than dry air, which means you might run your air conditioner more when the air is humid than when it’s dry.
What this means is, the basement window leaking will start to make the air humid. As you run your air conditioner, it must work harder to condition that humid air. Some people find that fixing the window well leaking can pay for itself over time because of the money they save on electric bills. You may be paying more than 15% too much on electricity because of it.
Uncomfortable Living Situation
Humid air tends to cause more discomfort than less-humid air. Once the humidity in the air gets too high, you’ll start to notice it. You may also turn the air conditioning down a few extra degrees, leading to even higher electric bills. Plus, mold and mildew can cause health problems, including worsening asthma and allergies.
This is a frustrating situation to be in because it can feel completely out of your control. That’s why it’s important to fix the leaking window well. Once you fix the basement window leaking, it may surprise you how quickly your basement and the rest of your home feels more comfortable.
Now that you know the dangers potentially associated with a leaking basement window, you probably want to know how to fix the leaking. There are a few different ways you can tackle this problem. Your preferred answer may be one or all of these answers.
It’s important to know how to fix leaking basement window wells before they spiral out of control. Here are some of your options.
Window Well Covers
Many window wells come with optional window well covers. These plastic covers go on top of the window wells and prevent debris or excess water from coming in.
Typically, the plastic covers can come up or go down to facilitate exit from your basement in an emergency. It also makes it easier for you to perform maintenance on the window well if you need to fix something down there.
One thing you need to remember is that cheap basement window wells, especially those that you can get at a local hardware store, can be prone to cracking. You need to talk to JES to make sure you’re getting high-quality window well covers.
Regrading Your Home
The concept of “grading” regards the earth your home sits on. If you’re having a lot of problems with flooding, you may need to change the way the grading exists around your home right now.
There are two types of grading: positive and negative. Positive grading slopes away from your home, which directs flooding water away from the foundation and the window wells. Negative grading slopes toward your home, directing water directly into your window wells.
It’s possible for you to repair negative grading. You typically need to add soil in the area around your house and remove it in the area further away from your house, causing a slope outward from the home. A JES expert will let you know if it’s possible and if it’ll help.
Basement Waterproofing System
A reliable basement waterproofing system is a true benefit to your basement and home. This is an especially important option if you’re not just having issues with your basement window leaking, but also with leaking all around your home.
A waterproofing system can help you avoid continuous water damage to your home. JES recommends the BasementGutter interior drainage system and a reliable sump pump system. These systems can help in a variety of situations that lead to water damage and other problems. Schedule a free basement inspection to see if it’ll work for you.
Get an Answer to Your Basement Waterproofing Problems With JES
Every basement needs slightly different attention when it comes to waterproofing. That’s because your problems aren’t the same as someone else’s. Every home is different, and that means every home repair approach should be different too.
If you’re having leaking basement windows or other waterproofing problems, you should talk to a JES expert. A certified professional basement waterproofing consultant can work with you and help you understand more about the best waterproofing solution for your needs.
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