Window well filling with water

thebigadJune 5, 2013

Whenever it rains a section of lawn and flower bed near my house seems to retain water longer than other areas. We have a finished basement. Today, it is raining hard and a window well in the problem section is filling with water as the picture shows.

I removed a bucketful and 15 mins later it is back. It seems to be coming through the wood 2x4s rather than over the mulch. I am afraid that this much water up close to the foundation will leak into the basement.

The gutters above are clear and spouts carry water away from the area.

Is it possible to seal between the 2x4s?

It is a very old house, about 60 years old, so I doubt there is a drain at the bottom of the well.

Panicking as the rain is supposed to continue all night. Help.

What can I do?

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Clean out the muck from the well.

There should be a drain at the bottom.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:21AM
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You think there will be a drain even if it was built 60 years ago?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:37AM
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It is more likely an older well will have a drain.

They get omitted from newer houses.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Okay. I'll look. I also plan to regrade the nearby area this weekend to create a better slope away from the well.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Here' a schematic of a window well installation integrating the drain with the perimeter weeping tiles.

If your window well was set up this way, there's little likelihood it's still functioning. The old lengths of clay pipe settle unevenly and fill up with soil and roots. I've dug up many of these from the 1940s-to 1960s--usually as part of the demolition and they were all useless.

If it's only the window well that is causing problems, dig down a few feet, then trench well away from the foundation for a separate drain running to daylight. Or you can use a length of solid pipe, then lengths of perforated pipe on a gravel bed. How long the pipes are all depends on the nature of your soil and just how much water is running into the window well.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 12:48PM
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we had this problem in a huge downpour just the other day. Water was pooling in a slightly low area right by the window well. the land around our house is graded higher at the foundation and slopes gradually downward as you move farther away from the foundation. If this is what the grading is like near your flooding window you can simply dig a channel away from the window to divert water as it builds up. Take a look and see if you can see how the ground water runoff is flowing on that side of the house. Is here any way you can dig a temporary ditch to divert the flow of water farther away from the house? you would simply use a garden spade and dig a little channel or swale for the water to flow along. best wishes

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 5:33PM
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+1 on Worthy's reply. You probably have/had clay drain tiles, and they are sure to be shot by now. And draining to daylight would be best if your property allows.

Your well is not highh enough, and wood is not the best at keeping water at bay.

If you cannot drain to daylight, I would do the following:

Remove that wooden well, and dig the well out at least a couple feet below the bottom of the window. Pickup a deeper plastic or metal well at a box store, and install the new well so the lip is quite a bit higher than this one....high enough so you can bring in additional fill dirt, and get a decent pitch away from the house. Use fill dirt, ideally with some clay in it, not topsoil. the idea is you want the water to run away from your foundation, not soak in. At least get a good pitch for several feet away from the foundation.

Then fill the deeper well you dug with small size drainage stone or pea gravel, and put a lid on it for good measure 9premade, or cut from plexiglass or lexan.

Water shouldn't get into the well with the lid, and when it runs off, your new positive grading should divert it away from the foundation. If water does happen to get into the well, it will drain into the gravel so that unless you get some kind of record rainfall, it won't pool up deep enough to get up to the bottom of the window.

Try to make sure the grading around your entire foundation has a positive pitch away from the least as much as you can. Run drainage pipe to get the gutter water away from the house as well.

By the way, what piping does the cleanout in the picture go to?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Sorry for the delay in responding all. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. The cleanout is for the sewer line.

I ended up using clay soil from the flower bed to create a better slope around the well. We just had a storm last night and it did well to keep water out. I will continue to monitor it.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:44AM
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