Is This Going to Be a Bad Year for Wet Basements?

At Shelter Construction we can’t help but wonder, “Is this going to be a bad year for wet basements?”

Whenever the winter comes to an end in Minnesota there is bound to be at least a bit of flooding when the snow melts. There are two easy ways for you to ensure your basement will be safe from water intrusion, so that you can have a dry house this Spring.


Poor grading is oftentimes the reason for flooding in basements. Poor grading is easy to detect. Go outside and look at the foundation of your home. If the ground is sloping towards your home or is allowing water to form a pond next to your home, then you have an issue. The remedy for poor grading is to change the landscaping around your house.

You don’t need to get to creative or extreme with this. Sometimes all it takes to fix this problem is to simply bring in some dirt and place it against your foundation so the ground slopes away from your home rather then towards it.

One thing to look out for when you do this is to not pile the dirt up too high. Keep the dirt at least 6 inches from the top of your foundation wall. The reason for this is if you pile the dirt to high you run the risk of rotting your wood framing or allowing wood-boring insects to enter your home. We don’t want that.

Maybe you’re in a situation where your home is too close to your neighbors to allow for proper grading, or maybe your grading is already within 6 inches of the top of your foundation and you are still having troubles with water in your basement, then the next course of action may be to create a series of swales. Swales are like shallow ditches, and they will help divert water away from your home. If you aren’t familiar with working on a project like this, the best course of action would be to contact an excavation contractor to do this for you.

If a swale isn’t practical, then you may have to install an underground drain system in your yard. This may be cumbersome, but it is worth it and will help solve your problems.

Gutters and downspouts

We talked about the importance of having a sound gutter system in our last piece, but that just goes to show you how important they are to the integrity of your home.

Without a proper gutter system, water from melted snow and rainwater can all pond next to your house, causing a major problem. It will saturate the soil and begin to seep into the cracks in your basement, leading to water damage and mold.

Of course, in most cases only having gutters isn’t enough, you need downspouts. Without them, gutters will just push water directly towards your house, and you will have the same problem you’d have if you hadn’t had gutters at all. Proper downspouts and downspout extensions will help water flow away from your home’s foundation. In a perfect world, your downspouts will extend at least four to five feet from your house.

Last but certainly not least, make sure your gutters are clean. Dirty and overflowing gutters will make wet basements the least of your worries. They can be a major issue and can cause roof leaks. There are a number of tools on the market that will allow you to clean your gutters yourself, or you can call a professional to do it for you.

Your gutters and your grading will be two very important aspects of keeping your basement dry this Spring, but also make sure to test your sump pumps as well.

A functioning sump pump will be very helpful in avoiding flooding. If you haven’t checked your sump pump in a while, now is the time, as they are recommended to be replaced if they are more than five years old. You may also want to consider getting a backup sump pump, and a water alarm for your sump pump in the case that something does go wrong. You will be able to find several of either of these with a simple Google search.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to us more about exterior projects call us or fill out the form on our website to schedule an appointment today.