Wet Basement? Your Real Problem May Be Outside Your Home

Wet Basement? Your Real Problem May Be Outside Your Home

A wet basement might not sound like much but, if you find yourself dealing with one, it can be a real nightmare. From destroyed possessions to smelly mildew, to unhealthy mold growth and even structural damage, a wet basement is no laughing matter.

If you walk down the stairs and discover a puddle (or a lake) in your basement, the first things you think of will probably be sump pumps, dehumidifiers, and basement waterproofing. These things will treat the symptoms, but may not fix the root cause of the flooding.

Here are some things to look for outside your home that could be the culprits behind the basement leak.


Your home’s rain gutters are there to move rainwater away from the house and its foundation. They can’t do their job, though, if they are clogged.

Clean your gutters at least twice a year, in the spring and fall. If you have trees next to your house, you may need to clean the gutters more often.

Inspect your gutters at least once a year to make sure they are not bent or damaged, and that rainwater flows freely to the downspouts.

Your home’s rain gutters can’t do their jobs without good downspouts. Clear any clogs from the downspouts when you clean your rain gutters.

And don’t overlook where the water leaves the downspouts–downspout extenders are key if you want to keep your basement dry. The Foundation Repair Association recommends extenders that drain the water at least 5 feet from your home’s foundation.


Water always runs downhill so, if part of your yard slopes towards your home, rain runoff will end up in your basement. To keep rainwater from running towards your basement, the soil around your home should drop 6 vertical inches in the first 10 feet moving away from your home.

Wondering how to grade land? Here is an easy method for checking the grading around your home.

You should also pay attention to the slope of paved areas, such as driveways and patios that are next to your home. Watch how the water runs and pools on these areas when it rains, or use a level to check the direction the pavement slopes.

If the pavement is sloped in a way that drains water towards your house, you may need to replace it. Before you hire a contractor to install a paved area near your home, make sure he or she will pay close attention to the grade.

Window Wells or Stairwells

Recessed window wells or stairwells can collect water and cause a leak into your basement. To fix the problem, Bob Vila recommends putting raised-lip edges around window wells or stairwells and considering installing a roof over stairwells. Window wells can benefit from a drain system and a clear plastic cover.