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Question DetailsAsked on 6/30/2013

Whenever it rains, water accumulates in one of my basement window wells. The other two window wells stay dry. How can I fix the problem?

The house is approximately 50 years old. There are no overflowing gutters or downspouts. I keep a plastic cover over the well. The problem was first noticed about a month ago. If there is a drain in the bottom of the well, I cannot find it. Is the problem fixable without some major digging?

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Do you have a sprinkler that hits this area, or an automatic sprinkler line nearby that could be leaking, or a sprinkler head that is stuck or broken so it is concentrating water near this well ?

Do you have a small child that likes making pools of water with a hose or bucket ?

Does the ground slope towards this one window - if so, get it to slope away, cut a drain away, or build a little compacted soil berm for about 2 feet in front of the well.

Look for staining from a hole in the well liner, or along the wall where it meets the wall. You may have a liner leak or rusthole to plug (caulk if small, or drive in a wood plug coated with caulk if larger).

If leaking at the foundation joint you properly would dig down OUTSIDE the liner, loosen the bolts or screws and wedge it away from the wall, then caulk it with bitumastic and tighten it back down. If very minor leak, you may be able to get away with cleaning the inside-the-well foundation/liner contact area with a wire brush, then caulk with bitumastic. It comes in caulk tubes and in cans, used for foundation and roof leaks. Caulk tube easiest to use for this purpose. WEAR GRUBBY CLOTHES. Cut caulk tube tip at 45 degree angle and hold TIGHT against the joint while running a substantial bead from bottom toward top. You can use your finger or an old narrow spoon coated with oil or diesel (to avoid sticking and peeling the sealant away), to smooth and press it into the crack for better sealing. Cleanup with WD40 or oil-cutting hand cleaner. Do NOT clean up indoors - getting it out of sinks is tough. In case of getting on clothes - spot clean it out with above cleaner SEVERAL TIMES before putting in washing machine, as will spot all other clothes for a number of washes if you get it in there.

If that fails clean the well out and try to see where the water comes in when you have the next rain - will mean checking it every 15 minutes or so so you can catch it when just starting to leak. Possible water is coming into the bottom of the well through the ground. Only way to seal that is to clean it out and put a healthy bitumastic seam all the way around the inside surface, then pour about 4-6 inches of concrete into it. Of course, any water that gets into it in the future will not drain away, and will stink if the plastic cover is left on so it can't evaporate.

As far as drains go - usually they have about 6-12 inches of gravel or crushed sand in the bottom to hold the infiltrating or rained-in water until it can soak into the ground, and some have a gravel-filled hole 3-6 feet below them as a dry-well. Clean out the bottom and see if there is such a layer - maybe it just got enough leaves and such in it over time (before you put the cover on) that it has biodegraded and gone to slime and blocked the infiltration.

One other common cause is the backfill around the house has settled with the years, leaving a void between the soil and the foundation which is now filling with water during rains, so it comes up into the bottom of the well. The only feasible solution for this case is making sure the ground slopes away, from the house to 3+ feet beyond the eave drip line, all around the house.

If the water is coming up into the well from below, your sump pump is probably working a lot more frequently in rains, too.

You might remediate this problem by the following, IF it is not coming up out of the ground into the well, in which case this would just make it worse: after making sure there are no utilities there, use a posthole digger or auger to put one or two holes in the bottom (preferably 3 feet or so deep) and fill them with clean (nothing sand or silt sized) gravel or crushed rock. If you don't have a ready source for a small quantity of that, most landscape places have bags of decorative stone - the smallest size would work. In a pinch coarse sand like winter traction sand would work, but would plug up quicker. Masons and sandbox sand is too fine to work well, becuae you want it to hold a large water volume in the voids as well as drain. Be sure not to get against the house with the holes, because you would damage the bitumastic membrane which is likely on the outside face of the foundation to prevent groundwater infiltration into the basement.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD




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