How to Prevent Basement Flooding During Heavy Rain

Basements can flood during heavy rain when rainwater seeps in through unsealed points of entry. Manage your landscaping and keep things sealed to prevent this.
Written by Melissa Harvey
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To prevent basement flooding during storms, make sure your landscape is graded away from your house, clean your gutters out multiple times a year, and make sure windows and exterior vents are well-sealed. 
Unexpected water levels from rainstorms and floods can leave your basement a soaking, sloppy mess ruining your carpets, furniture, and storage. While water-damaged basements can be expected during exceptional flooding, your basement shouldn’t get wet during regular rainstorms.
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broker, understands that flooded basements can be a nightmare. To help you out, we’ve compiled a handy guide with the best tips to help you keep your basement dry—no matter the weather. 
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How rainwater gets into your basement

Basement leaks often result from water seeping into the soil around your home’s foundation and exerting pressure on the outer walls. Different forms of pressure can cause water leaks: 
  • Persistent rain saturates the soil creating hydrostatic pressure (water pressure) that forces through your basement walls and floors 
  • When your gutters and downspouts clog, the resulting streams of water pool right next to your foundation, causing lateral (side) pressure on your walls  
  • Cracks in your foundation walls and floor (or poor footings) are open invitations for water accumulation indoors. 
Water stains along walls and pooling water on the floor are sure signs that you’ve got a leaky basement. You should repair any leaking as soon as possible to prevent further damage. 

Tips to prevent basement flooding during heavy rain

Annually inspect your lateral sewer lines for roots and blockages. It’s a good idea to snake your mainline once a year and keep working smoothly. 
Backed-up sewer lines or septic tanks can cause seriously stinky problems during heavy rainfall. You can reduce the chances of black water flooding by keeping these pipes clear. 
Seal your basement window wells, vents, and exterior openings. Window wells can act as a giant bucket during a storm, collecting massive amounts of water that will eventually spill somewhere else. 
If your window wells are correctly seated and sealed, you shouldn’t have a problem, but water can (and will) come in through unsealed vents or other external openings near ground level. 
Clean out your gutters in the spring and fall. Built-up leaves and sticks clog your gutters and cause water to gush out over the sides. Rain drizzle isn’t a big deal—but the force of gushing water can wear down your foundations and oversaturate your soil, causing leaks. 
Grade your landscaping away from your home. Water has to go somewhere when it rains, and it will run downhill due to gravity. Make sure those slopes run away from your house and not towards it. 
If your landscaping slopes down toward your home, you risk basement flooding during every storm. Don’t fret, though—there are landscaping solutions to fix this, and a landscaping professional can help. 
Extend the downspouts from your roof five feet away from your home’s foundations. Don’t leave downspouts pointed directly at your foundations or have them stop at ground level. 
Direct your downspouts toward the lawn areas graded away from your home so the water doesn’t flow back towards your outer walls. Adding troughs and extensions can help you manage runoff. 

Prevent basement flooding during storms by keeping up on maintenance 

You can substantially reduce the chances of flooding through preventative maintenance measures. Here are a few you can implement: 
  • Fill cracks in your foundations with epoxy or masonry sealer. If you have large cracks or extensive damage, consult a masonry professional for help. 
  • Seal your window wells, vents, and external openings at or near ground level. Properly seated and sealed window wells shouldn’t leak. Seal dryer vents and other outlets to keep water out. 
  • Cut out roots and remove unwanted debris from your main water lines to prevent backups. At the very least, you can use safe, foaming root killers to help keep your sewer or septic line clear. 
Key Takeaway Preventative maintenance can go a long way to prevent or reduce basement flooding during rainstorms. 

Install a waterproofing system 

If you live in an area where heavy rainfall and saturated soil are typical, installing a waterproofing system could help keep your basement dry. You can install an interior drain tile where the foundation meets the floor to guide water to a sump pump. 
Sump pumps can help remove water collecting from rainstorms. They basically act as a giant wet vac—sucking up water and spitting it out somewhere else. You’ll want to install your sump pump so that it can collect water from the lowest point in your basement.  
You need to keep your sump pump free of debris and make sure it's connected to a power source so it can do its thing when you need it most. 

Know what’s covered by insurance 

Before the rainy season starts, contact your home insurance company to find out what kinds of damage are covered before you have issues. 
Standard home insurance does not cover flood damage from severe weather, and separate flood insurance (while tremendously helpful) does not cover any items stored in basements. 
This means that the best (and sometimes only) way to protect your basement from flooding damage is prevention.

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