Many homeowners are not aware that basements require a certain amount of maintenance if they are to remain trouble free. Here is a list of items for outside and inside your basement that you should check twice a year – preferably in spring and again in fall.
Grading: If water runs towards your walls rather than away, it can wear out the original waterproofing, or create more pressure than the walls can take; causing cracks. So, in the spring and fall check around the entire perimeter of your home (especially behind the shrubbery) and fill in low spots with soil. Concrete pitched toward the walls should be re-leveled or replaced.
Gutters and Downspouts: Clean leaves out of the gutters and downspouts. Seal leaking joints. Extensions and splash blocks should carry water at least four feet away from the walls. Downspouts that empty into the underground cast iron receivers should be tested with a water hose to make sure they are not plugged or broken.
Window Wells: Clean all debris out of window wells. There should be 18″ of #1 washed stone in the bottom of each window well for drainage. If the original stone packed with dirt, dig it out and replace it. The edges of the wells should be tightly fitted to the walls and the ground around them raised so the rain and melting snow run away.
Sump Pump Discharge: If you have a sump pump pipe discharging on the ground make sure it carries the water far enough away from the walls. If it discharges below the ground, make sure connections don’t leak and are not in danger of freezing in cold weather.
Trees: Roots from nearby trees can creep through the ground in search of water and grow right in to drain tile or create undue pressure on the walls. Willow tree roots for instance can travel in the ground four times the width of it’s canopy. Consult an experienced landscaper or the County Agricultural agent when in doubt about the danger posed by trees or shrubs in your yard.