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Tips & Tricks

Pipe & Duct Insulation

New Homeowner Edition: Three Easy—and Inexpensive—Things You Can Do to Keep Your Basement Dry

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On the list of top nightmares for homeowners, this one ranks pretty high: you head down to the basement and there’s water as far as the eye can see.

Whether you’ve got a few feet of standing water or if your issue is limited to damp walls and floors, there are few worse surprises for a new homeowner than a wet basement. Not only can water cause expensive damage, repairs come with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, a dry basement doesn’t necessarily have to cost you thousands of dollars in waterproofing. Before you hire a company to waterproof your basement, try these easy and inexpensive outdoor maintenance projects that can help direct water away from your home:

1. Clean gutters and downspouts. Did you know clogged gutters and downspouts can cause basement flooding? When leaves and debris like dirt, twigs and bugs get trapped in your gutters and downspouts, water can’t run through them and drain away from your home—and that can cause water to overflow your gutters and run down around your home’s foundation, where it can build up and make its way into the basement.

Gutters should be cleaned twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall—to avoid clogs. Fortunately, cleaning gutters is a relatively easy DIY project you can knock out in an afternoon. All you’ll need is work gloves, a sturdy, extendable ladder, a gutter scoop or a trowel, a hose, and a dropcloth or bucket to collect debris. Check out our step-by-step directions to cleaning your gutters the Frost King way. After you’re done, you may want to consider installing Snap-In Vinyl Gutter Screens to keep gutters leaf-free for good.

2. Extend downspouts. Even if your gutters are clean, if they’re not carrying water far enough away from your home’s foundation you can still end up with water seeping into your basement. The best solution is to extend downspouts so they drain at least 3 feet from your home. Our new Tilt and Drain Downspout Extender clips onto your existing downspout to add an extra 3 to 6 feet. Plus, it’s designed to flip up for easy mowing and lawn care and swivels a complete 180-degrees so you can direct exactly where the water goes.

3. Regrade soil so it slopes away from your home’s foundation. Take a look around your foundation. Is there soil built up around your home? Are there low spots around the foundation where water collects and pools? If so, improper grading may be letting water into your basement.

All the water that falls around your house should be directed away from your home: since water flows downhill, the ground around the foundation should be gently sloped away from your home. In a perfect world, the ground will slope 5%, or about a 1-inch drop for every foot as you move away from the side of the house.

There are two ways to achieve this: you can add soil around the foundation and grade it away from the house—but this option only works as long as you still have 4 inches of foundation showing after adding a load of soil. If the soil is already high on your foundation, you should regrade by removing soil to create a slope away from the house.

What’s Next?

If you’ve fixed up the yard and your basement still feels damp or floods, take these steps indoors to reduce water and moisture:

- Use a dehumidifier to keep basement humidity between 30 and 50 percent. An added benefit: In addition to reducing moisture in the air, a dehumidifier can also prevent mold from forming.

- Insulate your cold water pipes with Tubular Foam Pipe Insulation to prevent condensation. Watch this video for easy step-by-step installation directions.



- Patch holes and cracks in your foundation. Even the smallest cracks can let in moisture so seal them up to keep water out. Thin cracks can be sealed with waterproofing compound. Larger cracks need to be cleaned and patched. Try our Expanding Foam Tape, which expands to fill gaps between ¼” and 1” wide and creates a watertight seal that’s resistant to bugs and vermin. If you have larger cracks, start by filling them with our moisture-repellent Caulk Saver, which reduces the amount of expensive caulk you need to seal large openings.

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