Window wells are the small open spaces created outside of windows and openings of the basement.
Because the basement is below ground level, earth has to be dug up and retaining walls need to be constructed to prevent the grading from caving in.
From a practicality standpoint, window wells make so much sense.
They allow natural sunlight into the basement, and ventilation can also enable humidity to escape the enclosed space, removing moisture in the air in the process.
But because they are understandably positioned below the grade, these can often make them prone to an avalanche of problems.
This is why even though a window well needs to be large enough to serve it’s primary purpose of allowing natural light in, the space should also be sufficient for a homeowner to comfortably do basic housekeeping like wiping of window panes or cleaning the well walls.
Sometimes the construction of window wells can also be a necessity.
Such circumstances can occur as re-grading works raise the lot grading around the house. Making it necessary to build a barrier to stop gravel from collapsing into the basement window due to the raised level.
When constructing a window well, property drainage systems need to be incorporated into the design plans.
Otherwise you could be creating a waterfall into the basement instead.
The drainage pipe that runs down to the drain is necessary even if a cover such as a dome is built above the window well.
It’s better to be safe than to gamble with your luck when it comes to potential water damage.
Problems with window wells
The most common problem with window wells by far is it’s size.
It can either be too big or too small.
This can refer to it’s length, breadth, height, and the floor space.
Those that are too small might not enable one to achieve it’s objective in the first place. Those that are too big makes it more vulnerable to water entry problems.
Do note that even though proper drainage might be built, they can still be susceptible to water problems.
For example, a huge storm might bring more water then the drainage is built to handle.
So do consider the weather patterns of your location. And don’t be afraid to seek the advice of the builder.
Other common problems and defects include:
- Bowing, breaks and rust of metal walls
- Cracks, leaning and spalling of concrete or masonry walls
- Rot, bowing and shifting of wooden walls
- Clogged drainage pipe
Finally, remember that no matter what material were used and how good the workmanship was, things eventually break.
And because of how big a problem damaged window wells can cause to a house, they should be regularly maintained instead of waiting for one to break.
If you need to replace one because it’s structure has been compromised, it could very well be too late and water is all over the basement.