How to Handle a Leaking Window Well
Ground-level windows have been installed in many basements to ease the sense of claustrophobia they can create by letting in a little sunlight and allowing for ventilation. The effect is generally to make the basement feel a little more spacious and comfortable, especially during the day. Window wells are installed to allow for windows which are slightly below ground level. The comfort and brightness they bring, however, is no comfort at all if the window well starts leaking and causes flooding in the basement it illuminates.
What Causes a Leaking Window Well?
Most window wells are designed to withstand even heavy downpours. After all, they are designed to allow for functional windows below ground level. As a result, when they do begin leaking, it is usually because of a defect, damage to the window, or wear and tear. The most common causes of a leak, large or small, in a basement window well are as follows.
- Lack of Drainage or Improper Drainage
Window wells are, of course, indented into the ground and they will fill with water when it rains unless there is proper drainage in place. If the well has no way to drain, or it drains poorly, it is only a matter of time until it begins to leak either because of the pressure of the water or because of age.
- Incorrect Installation
If your basement windows and window well are installed improperly, it is far more likely they will leak.
If your windows are cracked, the seal is damaged, or the well itself has been damaged in some way, then it is more likely that you will experience leaks, dampness, and even mold or mildew formation.
- Lack of Maintenance
Even the best windows can deteriorate with use and time. If you do not take the time to keep your windows in good repair, they will begin to break down, and this could result in a leaking window well.
- Melting Snow
Melting snow puts a unique kind of pressure on basement windows because it provides a very slow, constant drip of water that puts pressure on even the healthiest windows.
Most people don’t realize that lawn sprinklers can be damaging to ground-level windows. Like melting snow, sprinklers cause constant water pressure against windows. It can also cause water to pool in ground-level window wells.
Heavy rain and flooding can cause a lot of problems, especially if you don’t have a good window well cover. Heavy rain and flooding can put pressure on your window and seep through any small cracks.
The Damage a Leaking Window Well Can Do
A leaking window well, like any other source of dampness in your basement, can cause a number of problems for your home in terms of both the living environment and its structural integrity. These are some of the most worrying potential side effects of a leaking window well.
- Raised Humidity
One of the most significant impacts of a leaking window well is a sudden spike in the humidity levels in your basement. This is not only uncomfortable, but it can lead to a number of additional problems.
- Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, and when you have a leaking window well, it raises the humidity in your basement, as stated above. Mold can take root in any organic materials lying around your basement. If the wells stay wet, it can also spread onto the walls, or even into them if they are not solid stone.
- Insects and Debris
If mold and mildew form in your basement, it is likely to cause another problem. You see, you may not like mold, but insects love it. If mold and mildew form in your basement and you don’t catch it, you may find that insects like mold mites, termites, and cockroaches move in soon after.
- Raised Electricity Bills
Humid air takes more energy to heat or cool than dry air. As such, many homeowners first come to realize they have minor leaks in their basement window wells or crawl space vents while investigating a sudden rise in their energy bills. In fact, it can cause a rise of up to 15%.
- Damage to Personal Belongings
If the amount of water getting in is significant, you can also experience damage to anything you keep in your basement. Any boxes or furniture on the floor will become waterlogged, and any documents or sentimental things inside them could be entirely ruined.
Above and beyond all this, a leaking window well can cause the environment in your basement, and indeed your home, to become uncomfortable.
How to Prevent a Leaking Window Well
The best possible thing to do is avoid having a leaking window well in the first place. This isn’t always possible, but there are some things you can do to keep your window well in good repair to avoid leaks.
First and foremost, you should keep the wells’ drainage unclogged by debris. Secondly, you should treat any exposed wood with mold-resistant varnish regularly. Thirdly, you should undertake yearly or bi-annual maintenance checks to ensure all the components of your window and well are taken care of. More than this, regular checks will ensure that you notice changes and small issues before they become big problems. When checking your windows, you should look for:
- Blocked drainage
- Weathered or peeling sealant
- Cracks in the frame
- Rust in the inner workings of the window
- Slimy deposits on the inner windowsill
If you see any of these signs, you should contact a professional to assess the window and well to make sure the window has been installed properly and identify any problem signs.
Fixing a Leaking Window Well
Once you identify that you have a leaking window well in your basement, it’s important that you move quickly to fix the issue. The best way to do that is to have a Groundworks professional assess your basement and windows to identify the most likely cause of the leak.
It can be tempting to simply ignore a leaking window well, especially when it seems like a small leak, but it is important that you do not. There are a number of things a professional can do to help you deal with a leaking window well. Some common measures include:
- Installing Drainage Ducts
If your basement windows have large wells, drainage ducts may be the right choice for you. You can install these yourself, but it is always better to let professionals do it for you. This is the best possible way in which to make sure the job is done correctly and does not cause more problems.
- Filling Cracks
One of the things you can do yourself is fill in any cracks that you find. If you intend to do this yourself, you should use a thin chisel to make the cracks you find slightly bigger, and then fill them with a mix of five parts cement to one-part water. Ideally, however, you should let a professional deal with this.
- Installing New Windows
If the windows were installed incorrectly or are simply worn beyond repair, it may be necessary to replace them wholesale.
Experts can work to find the right solution
Leaky window wells can plague any home. With a multitude of ways that it can happen, this issue is very common among homeowners like you. Our experts around the country can give your home the unique attention it needs to accurately diagnose the source of the leak, and apply the right solution to fix the problem, for good. Schedule a free inspection today with an expert near you.