Fewer things strike more fear into the heart of a homeowner than walking down into their basement and finding that the lovely summer rainstorm outside is now inside. In Chicagoland, it’s not uncommon to have the day start sunny and bright only to be hammered by a few inches of rain as the day (or even days) goes on. Here are a few tips you do to make sure all those sky tears stay far away from your foundation and in your basement.
1) Gutters are important but so are downspouts.
Take a quick lap around your house and look at where your downspouts terminate. If you don’t have extensions installed there’s a strong possibility that all the water your gutter system is collecting is washing out right beside your foundation. That is a problem in that water has the potential to work its way down your foundation walls as water will often travel the path of least resistance. Should your foundation contain cracks or penetrable points that water could find its way into your home.
Solution: go to the hardware store and get downspout extensions. While more than 5ft would be ideal, anything is better than nothing when you consider that thousands of gallons of water might be accumulating where don’t want it. Reach out to a contractor if you need help assessing the efficiency of your gutter system.
2) Check out the grading around your house.
While you’re taking that lap around the house to assess your downspouts pay attention to the grading of the soil and what direction it slopes. If the grading has a negative slope back towards your house that could be problematic.
Solution: regrade the soil around your house as needed. Reach out to a contractor and have them improve the grading around your house. A contractor will be able to help you improve the grading and also use a swale to help divert water away from home. After you have your soil regraded be sure to monitor its performance over the years as rain can wash soil away over time.
3) Sump pump? Back that thing up!
A sump pump is a fantastic tool that allows groundwater around your foundation to be diverted into a pit that is equipped with a pump. When the water level in the pit reaches a certain point it trips a float that engages the pump. This pump then drains the water from the pit and pushes it away from your foundation usually into the back yard or a side swale. Sump pumps can work great…but what if the power goes out?
Solution: Install a battery backup system. Should there be a storm that knocks out power to your house all that water that is accumulating into your sump pit has no way to get out. After awhile that pit may overflow and cause much damage. A battery back up system will allow your pump to stay powered even if the house has none. They aren’t very big (often no larger than a car battery) but are a vital defense system to making sure your pump works when you need it to. Battery back up systems are usually available at hardware stores or can be ordered online. Need help installing it? Reach out to a contractor for help.