Many older homes and some newer ones come with outside stairs leading down to the basement door. The bottom of the stairwell is usually equipped with a drain hole that is supposed to prevent water from flooding the basement during heavy rains, but it’s not always the case. If you notice water sipping (or gushing) in from behind the basement door, here are a few measures Guardian Basement Waterproofing recommends you take:

Make sure the drain is unclogged

The opening of the drain is not very big, so it can easily get covered by leaves, mud, branches, cut grass, and other debris carried by the wind and rain water flow. Keep an eye on it at all times!

Find out where the water drains

Stairwell drain doesn’t really do any good if it doesn’t carry rainwater away from the house. Many older houses don’t have any underground drainage systems installed, so at best, the rainwater drains into an underground gravel-filled pit or a tunnel. Because water is not directed far away from the foundation, it will keep pressuring concrete eventually causing cracks. Moreover, silt collects in the pit over time reducing drain’s capacity and efficiency. It could be cleaned, but beware that it’s a dirty work.

In modern houses, the system of underground pipes carries rainwater from stairwell to a sump pump, city sewer line or a drywell. Clogged pipes could be the reason why your stairwell drain is not performing as expected. Maryland basement waterproofing experts with more than 25 years of experience, we have performed plenty of stairwell drain hookups and service jobs, and will be happy to assist you with your project.

Install a cover over the stairwell

If your basement door is not protected by a hatchway, a canopy or any other cover, installing one could help reduce the amount of rainwater reaching the door. It will also prevent the drain opening from clogging, which should improve the drain performance.

Inspect the surroundings

Make sure the only water reaching the drain is the one that rains from the sky. Due to flawed design or grading, you can often find rainwater spilling into the stairwell from the sides, sipping through the surrounding concrete walls or dripping from the roof and downspouts. Some of these issues are easy to fix by cleaning the gutters and channeling downspouts away from the foundation. However, such problems as the ground sloping toward the house require troublesome and often expensive regrading.

Reinforce the basement door

Take a look at the door’s threshold. If it comes too low to the ground, consider raising it to make it harder for the water to get in. Also, many of our Baltimore waterproofing clients has significantly benefited from installing or replacing weather seal on their basement doors.