Window Well Drainage: The Options

Following on from my thoughts about installing window wells around basement windows, I just wanted to add a few items about drainage.

Putting in window wells was part of a larger project to prevent water infiltrating our basement. With that in mind, I designed the wells to take water well away from the house. But I still had concerns that water might backup, since our soil has a lot of clay in it.

Soil type determines how easily water seeps into the ground. Water flows through sandy soils better than through clay soils. As it turned out, we were lucky and didn’t have a problem.

If you’re thinking about installing window wells, you might want to read this article called The Basics of Window Wells. It talks about some disadvatages of window wells. It will give you an overview of possible problems you could run into when installing window wells, including poor drainage.

So, what to do if you find that water is collecting in your window wells?

There are a number of ways  to deal with this problem, unfortunately, they usually involve digging. You will have to install a drain to take water away. Where the water goes is up to you. There are a number of alternatives:

  1. Foundation Drains – If your house has foundation drains, you can divert water to them. Dig down with a post hole digger and put in a pipe to send the water flowing from the window wells into the foundation drain.
  2. Dry Well – If you don’t have foundation drains, you might want to think about putting in a dry well. Install plastic drain tile to take water from the window wells to the dry well.
  3. French Drain – Alternatively, a French drain can be a good option. In this case, create a large underground collection area filled with gravel. Here is an excellent account of how to make a french drain.
  4. Sump Pump – Of course, if none of these ideas works for your house, you could always deliberately divert the water into your basement, then deal with it using a a sump pump.

But really, I hope you don’t need to worry about any of this stuff, and that your window well installation goes swimmingly.

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