Wet Basement? Tips to Keep Your Basement Dry

One thing a homeowner never wants to see is a flooded basement. Those in the upstate New York area understand moisture can be a problem year round. The Adirondacks and the Sacandaga Lake regions both experience torrential downpours during the spring, summer, and fall, which can lead to foundation erosion as well as hydrostatic pressure. These issues, coupled with excessive water funneling around an antiquated foundation can lead to a number of problems over the course of a few years. When foundation walls become compromised, leaks can occur. When leaks are left unattended over time, they can turn into foundation holes, which can flood a basement. A flooded basement is enough of a headache, but when after effects such as mold ensue, the repair dollars really begin to add up. However, there are a number of preventative measures that one can take to ensure his or her basement experiences very little water at all.

Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are one of the first priorities of homeowners with basements. Sump pumps use a floating trip mechanism to pump water away from low lying areas. When installing a sump pump in a basement, one should find the lowest point of the floor. At that point, a small hole may be dug to place a concrete or plastic basin. The sump pump is then place down into the basin where water pools. When water runs into the basement, it will run on the downhill plane, which is where sump pump basin is located. Once water builds in the basin, the float device will trigger the sump pump to suck water from the basin. Although this is not necessarily water-proofing the basement, it will definitely save hours of manually bailing water.

After installing a sump pump, a homeowner’s next step should be to find the root of the problem. For instance, if the foundation of a home is lower than a portion of the lot, water may pool in that area. When a home is down slope of the yard, water will run into the foundation and pool around the block wall. This creates hydrostatic pressure that if left untreated can cause the foundation of the home to shift as well as water to seep between grout joints. Water needs to be diverted from the foundation to release this pressure and prevent basement wall leakage.

Landscaping & Gutters

Landscaping your yard can be very effective in diverting water away from your house and preventing large amounts of water from penetrating your basement.  In many cases small changes like adding a layer of sloping dirt near the foundation covered with special heavy plastic and topped with a layer of pea gravel can direct water away effectively.  Other situations may require the use of equipment to slope large portions of the yard to create a grade that leads away from the house in all directions to stop water from flooding your basement.  This method can be expensive but will usually yield good results.

Adding gutters to your house can also help divert water away from your house and prevent erosion that may lead to water penetration close to the foundation.  Gutters can empty into catch basins such as a plastic rain barrel, which is good for later use in gardening & watering plants or hooked to sub-surface drain lines that are directed away from the house where water will not creep back. Pair landscaping and gutters along with the installation of a sump pump and most water headaches can be solved, but for persistent moisture problems, you may have to consider a French drain.

French Drain

The most effective way to divert water from the foundation other than a complete landscape overhaul is to build a French drain. A French drain is a pipe that is perforated to allow the influx of water. A sleeve covers the corrugated pipe to prevent drain clogging debris such as leaves, rocks, and other trash from entering into the drain pipe. The French drain is installed along the foundation wall that receives the most water. The French drain should be placed at the bottom of the foundation wall, which in most cases will require digging. A good idea when digging out the foundation wall is to place a bituthane barrier over the foundation wall as well. A bituthane membrane is a water proof material that consists of a rubberized asphalt/polyethelene membrane that is designed to keep water away from compromised grout joints, cracks and fissures in your basement walls. Bituthane coverings are another effective piece of preventative maintenance that will help save the foundation from costly repairs in the future.


Water-proofing, landscaping and water pumping are all ways to create a worry free & water-free basement. The main point of basement flood prevention is to identify any problems before they arise. For those just moving in to a property, or those who have just begun your real estate search, he or she should investigate any points of the lot that may indicate draining towards the home. If you are considering looking for a house or vacation home, start looking at homes in the spring, this is the best time to identify water problems.  After problems are identified, solutions can be enacted or discussions can begin with the listing agent and seller.