Basements are especially prone to water damage. They sit at least partially below ground, where runoff and groundwater can seep in quickly if you aren’t careful. Taking certain steps you can minimize the risk of water intrusion into your basement, keeping it dry all year long.
1. Check Your Gutters.
Rain gutters are often neglected by home owners, but they are incredibly important lines of defense against basement flooding. Without them rain water would fall straight off the house’s roof, pooling around the foundation so that it eventually seeps in through the basement’s exterior walls. Climb up on a ladder and examine the gutters for any debris or other obstacles that would prevent free flow. Shoot water through the downspouts to check for clogs. If you run into a clog, run a drain snake down the spout to remove it. Also, install extensions on the downspouts that take the flow at least ten feet away from the house’s foundation.
2. Inspect Your Sump Pumps Regularly.
Most people who live in wet climates have at least one sump pump in their basement. These sump pumps are only helpful if they are working properly, so check up on them at least every month or two. Pour a bucket of water into each pump’s pit and watch to see what the sump pump does. The pumps should quickly drain liquid out of the pit and away from the house. If not, call a qualified contractor to service the pumps and make any necessary repairs.
3. Check Your Washing Machine Hoses Regularly
Many houses have a washing machine in the basement. The appliance uses quite a bit of water, which travels through the hot and cold hoses attached to the machine and the valves in the wall. A problem with flooding arises when the hoses become brittle and cracks, allowing water to spew out into your basement in a hurry. Every month you should inspect the hoses for signs of damage or cracking. Squeeze each hose to check if it feels hard or brittle and immediately replace any that are wearing out. Even better, avoid the danger of flooding altogether and install breaded steel hoses on your washing machine, since they will not crack and lead to flooding.
4. Inspect Your Water Heater for Signs of Corrosion
These heaters don’t last forever. In fact, they actually corrode from the inside out. If you see signs of corrosion on any of the lines or connections to the water heater, you need to have a plumber look at and possibly replace it. Most of them hold between thirty and forty gallons of water, which can fill most basements with several inches of water in short order.
5. Prevent Frozen Pipes
In cold weather climates where the temperature regularly dips below freezing, you need to protect against pipes freezing. A frozen pipe can unfortunately lead to the pipe bursting, quickly filling your basement up with water. The greatest risk for pipes freezing lies in parts of the basement that are not properly insulated. Wrap insulation around pipes of concern, or install electric heat sleeves on the pipes to keep the water inside from freezing. You can even run a space heater in different parts of the basement when the weather is particularly cold.
Water can have an insidious and quite damaging effect on your home. Keeping a close eye on the areas in which water is likely to find its way where it is not wanted is prevention rather than cure and is often overlooked by home owners. Preventing issues from arising in the first place is by far the most cost effective way of dealing with the potential that water has for doing considerable damage.
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