Water in your basement

Help reduce sewer or drain losses in your basement by checking drainage, reducing backflow and installing a sump pump.

Sump pump drainage system.

No one wants to experience a sewage backup in their home.

Like many questions around home maintenance, when it comes to sewer backup, prevention is the best solution. Considering how much damage can be caused by water in your basement, it makes sense to spend a little time testing out your drainage system and addressing any problems before a catastrophe occurs.

Here are a few ways to help keep your basement clean and dry.

Make sure your drainage system works

Often, water in your home comes down to preventable drainage problems. A few hours of work could keep the water out. Review this checklist to help:

  • Your home's gutter downspouts should extend at least 10 feet away from the foundation of the house so water is carried away from basement walls.
  • Clear your gutters at least twice a year to help prevent them from overflowing. Leaves and debris will clog gutters and can send water back toward your roof, walls or foundation.
  • Gutters and downspouts should not be connected to municipal sewage lines.
  • Your yard should be graded to slope away from the house so surface water is drained away.
  • If your gutters connect to storm sewers, keep drain lines clear.

Prevent backflow

Backflow is the reversal of water in any plumbing system. It can lead to undesirable basement leaking and flooding.

Some homes are equipped with check valve devices that allow water and sewage backup to flow away from the drain, preventing water and sewage from backing up into the drain. Gate valve devices operate like a gate, closing and shutting off the flow of water and sewage.

Drain plugs and standpipes can also be used to prevent backflow. Both are relatively inexpensive solutions, but also come with their own risks. Drain plugs seal off the flow of water but can cause an overflow to occur at the next opening in the system. Standpipes, or vertical pipes connected and sealed to a drain, can contain minor overflows and act as safety valves, but can only contain backflow up to their height, usually just three feet.

If you think you're having problems with backflow, contact a plumber or contractor immediately.

Sump pumps

Sump pumps are pumps that remove water from a reservoir in your home.

There are several types of sump pumps, including single sump pumps and dual-level systems, which employ a backup pump. Usually, batteries or a generator can be used to power the backup sump pump in case of a power failure.

If you'd like to get a sump pump for your home, check with your local plumbing contractor or building code official for additional requirements.

Keeping water out of the basement

Waterproofing interior and exterior walls can help prevent water in your basement.

Concrete coatings and sealers, waterproofing paint or plastic sheets can prevent condensation when applied on interior walls.

Apply a caulk or cement to cracks in the foundation to help prevent water from leaking into your basement.

Build up the soil around your house to drain water away from your home. Over time, the dirt settles and water can run directly into your basement.

When all else fails

Sometimes water still gets in even when you take precautions. If it does, here are a few things you can do to help minimize damage:

  • Keep items stored in basement areas shelved or off the floor. Consider replacing cardboard boxes with sturdy plastic containers for storage.
  • Place furniture on casters or shims and arranged away from floor drains.
Check with your local building code department, water utility or a qualified plumber for more information on steps you can take to reduce the chance of water damage to your home. And talk to your local insurance agent to see what's covered in your homeowners policy.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
State Farm General Insurance Company
Bloomington, IL

State Farm Florida Insurance Company
Winter Haven, FL

State Farm Lloyds
Richardson, TX

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