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How to prepare your LI basement for spring

Start at the top: Keeping your gutters clear

Start at the top: Keeping your gutters clear will ensure that overflowing water doesn't end up seeping into your basement. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ronstik

Spring presents a serious challenge to your basement. Before the rainy season starts, give your basement a checkup and prepare for the season to come. March is an excellent time to plan for waterproofing and to schedule work before problems develop.

CHECK THE EXTERIOR

Your exterior maintenance plays a big role in protecting your basement. Schedule a spring gutter cleaning to clear out debris and prevent water from overflowing your gutters and, ultimately, seeping into your basement. 

Make sure your downspouts extend far enough away from your home. You want to direct water a minimum of three feet away from your foundation. A downspout extension of 6 to 8 feet is an even better idea.

Visually check your foundation for any cracks that may have developed over the winter.

Inspect the grading around your house. Snow buildup and melt can  alter your slope.  You want at least a slight grade to direct water away from your home. If water is allowed to pool around  the foundation, it can seep in and, in the event of a freeze, cause cracks. Ideally, your home should have a declining slope of 6 inches for every 6 feet away from the home. If you can't achieve this level of grading, a professional can offer other solutions, such as a French drain.

If you lay mulch in the spring, leave a gap of at least 6 inches between the mulch and the siding of the house. Mulch holds water and can cause siding to rot. Don't build up mulch beds too high, either.

INSPECT THE INTERIOR

If you have a sump pump, give it a checkup. Make sure the power source is connected and the cord shows no wear. Verify that the pump is level and upright. Then, fill the sump basin or pit with water, which should activate the pump. This will demonstrate whether it's working properly.

Take out your pump and check the bottom of the basin. Look for any debris that's gotten stuck in the grate and clean it. Make sure the discharge pipe is clear.

Check your basement walls for signs of excessive water pressure. Interior walls bulging inward or cracks in the concrete floor are early signs of groundwater pressure. Look for loose mortar joints or cinder blocks that stick out more than surrounding blocks.

Look carefully at corners and joints between wall and floor, which are significant weak points.

Bulging walls and cracked floors require the attention of a qualified contractor, such as a structural engineer. A professional can identify the source of the problem and recommend the most effective solution. Don't delay such repairs. Basement cracks don't get better on their own, and the longer you wait, the more expensive the final fix will become.

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