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How to Stop Your Basement Window from Leaking

What is a window well
Unless used as a spare bedroom or a recreational area, basements can be one of the most neglected areas of a home. Like an attic or a broom closet, they commonly store items you will only use occasionally. That’s why when a leak occurs or the elements break-in, it can go unnoticed for a long time.
Some builders consider basement windows to be the Achilles’ heel of a house. In an area that’s already sparingly lived in, they represent an opening for humid air, groundwater, and wildlife to enter. However, basement window designs are a little different than the other windows in your house. They are better suited to protect against leaks.
Basement windows mostly come with a window well that keeps out drafts and leaks even when it rains heavily. They also allow light in from a vertical or near-vertical angle, making their function comparable to skylights. You owe it to yourself to pick the right basement window and take care of them, or your basement might look like a vault or a small swimming pool.

Is Your Basement Window Leaking?

When you check on your basement while it’s raining, do you notice condensation forming on the walls? Do you see water leaking from the basement windows themselves or traces of water from a window well leaking into the basement?
Do you notice a basement window leaking from the top?
Below are five steps that will teach you how to fix basement window leaks and a few other tips on how to prevent them in the future.
Window well complication

Step 1: Check Your Window Well

Window wells are curved installations of metal or plastic attached to pipes that channel the water from your basement window into your storm drain or outside plumbing. They must be below grade (meaning below ground level), and the pipe must stay clear of any blockages. Place some gravel in your window well, so water doesn’t pool and press against your window glass.
An old, broken, or poorly built window well is the most common cause of a leaking basement window. Your house’s foundation might shift as it ages, and cracks might form if your window well hasn’t been replaced since the house was built. If your window well has gravel, remove it and inspect any cracks or clogs that might be stopping it from performing its function.
Even if you had a window well installed just a few years ago, it might become blocked with dirt, snow, and litter. Window wells need maintenance from time to time, so if you think that’s a hassle, install a cover to prevent debris from clogging it.
Consult a professional after doing your research so you know the cover and your window well are compatible. This extra precaution will stop you from having more waterproofing problems down the line.

Step 2: Check Your Basement Windows

If your basement is 40 or 50 years old, there’s a good chance you have wooden or steel frames as they were still popular among builders for basement windows at that time. They can still be bought today, but they have a much shorter lifespan than uPVC, composite, and aluminum frames. A leaky basement window will commonly have a steel or timber frame that has sustained damage from water or corrosion.
If you spot a crack in your basement window frame, you can caulk it for a temporary solution. Check the surrounding area for more damage and apply caulk as needed. Keep in mind that a previously damaged basement window is more susceptible to rot and corrosion in the long run.

Step 3: When to Install New Windows

If you find that the previous owner of your home has already caulked some problem areas on your basement window, it’s time to replace them. The weather is getting more unpredictable, and water leaking into the basement might damage your walls, carpets, and appliances and even cause the growth of mold and mildew—which is difficult and expensive to remedy.
Four kinds of basement windows are in use today:
a basement window with a window well installed
  • Timber windows require the highest maintenance and are the costliest, but their attractiveness and the insulation they offer keeps them popular among homeowners.
  • Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) is the king of practicality and performance, as it can be styled to copy all kinds of window frames while being more durable and requiring less maintenance.
  • Aluminum is perfect for modern homes, as it is the most weatherproof of all window materials and requires next to no maintenance.
  • Composite windows offer a combination of all the previously mentioned materials, so you have great flexibility in choosing how it will work for you.

Step 4: Check Your Downspout and Gutters

After checking the integrity of your window frames and window wells, you should also check your home’s gutter system to see if any more leaks are spilling onto your surrounding property.
A downspout is the drain line from the roof to the ground. If it has some blockage, the water may land on your window well or on the area surrounding your basement, which will naturally seek a lower recess.
downspout causing cracks in cement near foundation

Step 5: Know When to Call a Professional

Most people store expensive things in the basement, and a leaking window can cause devastating damage. If you see your basement window leaking and can’t figure out what’s causing it, call our expert team at MT Drains & Plumbing to make sure it’s fixed once and for all.
Sometimes window wells need a sump pump installation, which involves connecting a machine to a bucket buried inside the well. It might also need a certain level of compaction from clay-like soil instead of gravel.
Whatever your concerns are, when you detect a leak in the basement, we have guaranteed experience fixing it and preventing future problems. Call us at (905) 761-5551 or request a free quote on our website. We are the most recommended drainage and plumbing service in Concord, ON.

Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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