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How to Avoid Flooded Basements

Whether it’s caused by spring rains or a leaky valve, a flooded basement can mean thousands of dollars in damage to a home and a major headache for the homeowner. Although there are many low-cost steps homeowners can take on their own to prevent basement flooding, getting a professional assessment of your home’s flood protection systems is the only way to actually protect your basement.




The following steps can be done affordably by the homeowner. These should be done in the fall, or as needed when the snow begins to melt in spring.

1. Gutters and downspouts
Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear of debris. Extend downspouts, so they release water at least three feet from the edge of your house or more, depending on the grade surrounding the home. Running pipe extensions or troughs to redirect water may be needed.

2. Check foundation inside and out
Look for cracks in the foundation walls. Fill with epoxy and seal with masonry sealer. Outside, check the grade surrounding your home. If the soil is sloping downward toward the foundation, consider re-grading the perimeter so that water flows away from the foundation. Make sure the soil does not touch the top of the siding, or this might cause water to flow over the foundation into the basement. Also, check windows that are built below grade, making sure they are covered, and check to see if drainage paths along the basement steps are clear.

3. Check your sump pump
Locate your home’s sump pump. Make sure it is plugged in. If it has an automatic float switch, lift the float. If the pump turns on, the switch is working. If it is a portable pump, place it in the lowest part of the basement, also checking to see if its power source is working.




No matter how handy the homeowner, there are going to be times when you will need a professional to address foundation or basement flood prevention issues. Here is when you should leave the work up to the pros at Skillings & Sons and other residential service professionals:

1. Sump pump installation or inspection
If you don't have a sump pump, you should have one installed. If you haven’t had a professional check your sump pump in recent years, consider having a home water system specialist come in and take a look. They can check for corrosion on the casing and in the electrical system, whether the discharge pipe is installed correctly and if it’s extended far enough from your foundation to prevent backflow. A professional can also install a backup power system, or a complete backup sump pump. In areas where big storms bring power outages, it is important to have a backup power source or the sump pump will essentially become useless.

2. Sewer and Septic Check
Spring is a good time to have your sewer system or septic tank inspected. During periods of heavy rain or extended wet periods, sewers and septic systems can get overtaxed, causing major problems for homeowners.

3. Purchase a generator
New England is no stranger to power outages. Blizzards, tropical storms, and the nasty spring Nor’easter can bring heavy precipitation and winds, knocking out power and basement flood prevention systems, like sump pumps. Installing a generator is an investment, but it will bring your home more value and you more peace of mind.

4. Install a water shut off valve
Not all flooded basements are caused by heavy rains. Leaks in the home water system can cause damage as well. Installing a water leak detection system, otherwise known as a water shut off valve, can prevent costly damage. These valves shut off water flow when a leak is detected. Some even have wireless communication capabilities, letting you know either when you are home or away if a leak is detected.


Our highly trained staff can provide more information about sump pumps, water shut off valves and other flood prevention methods. If you have questions or would like a consultation, contact us today.