Basement window wells, drains, and water - help!

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Old 07-29-12, 07:10 AM
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Basement window wells, drains, and water - help!

Hi,

I've been a homeowner for the past 2 years, and twice in the past 2 weeks one of our two basement window wells has filled up with water during heavy downpours and poured into the basement.

I went out there today to take a look at the well and I have to admit - I'm confused about how basement window well drainage is supposed to work. Here's what I found:

- There is a lot of soil, mulch, and rocks in the window well. I used a shovel to try to clear most of this away (trying to leave the rocks, but they're pretty mixed in with everything else)

- There's some sort of a grated drain in the window well. After removing the grate, I stuck a snake down into the drain. It went down the entire length of the snake (which I assume is 25 feet). To show you how little I know, I didn't realize window wells have drains! I also noticed that there was visible pooled water in the drain.

- The other window well is 6 feet away from this window well and it looked pretty dry. This makes me think that doing something with the slope and/or covering the window well won't really help.

- After cleaning the grate up a bit I turned the hose on to see if water drained better. Looked like it was draining a bit, but then it started to pool again.

- I have not noticed an issue with water coming in through this window in the past.

I have no idea what to do or how to deal with this issue. Is there something I can do to fix this issue myself? If I should hire someone to help, what kind of person should I look up?

Thanks,
PB
 
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Old 07-29-12, 07:35 AM
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Window wells are probably the most ignored maintenance item around a house. Leaves fall in them and have no where to go, except to clog the drain.
You say water was "pooling" in the well. As long as it doesn't pool higher than the sill and it drains immediately, then it is probably ok.
Does the water back up in the drain pipe? That wasn't clear.
You may have better success by running your longer garden hose down the drain pipe and turning the water on after you reach a certain point to flush out what is in there. Do you know where the pipes exit on your property. Most likely the two window wells are tied to each other, so if one is draining, the other should also.
 
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Old 07-29-12, 07:50 AM
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When I examined the window well this morning, I saw no water in the well. When I removed the grate from the drain, I saw water in there (the level was below the sill).

When I filled up the well with water with the garden hose, the water drained slowly. If I left the hose going full blast it would definitely fill up the window well.

I know where one pipe drains from the property, but there was no water coming out of there when I filled up the window well (I know that drains at least one of the gutters from our house). I don't think there's any other place this drain could go.
 
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Old 07-29-12, 07:57 AM
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You may have a dry well system, in which case whatever they used for an encasement has filled with leaves and crud, preventing percolation to the ground. Did you chug the hose down the drain pipe as far as it would go? Measure how far it goes before hitting an obstruction.
 
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Old 07-29-12, 11:27 AM
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I ran a garden hose into the drain, probably got it in about 15-20 feet. Afterwards I ran water through the hose. It took about 15 seconds to bubble up to the top and within a minute or two it was starting to pool in the window well.

After turning the hose off, it took about a minute for it to all flow down the drain.

After I pulled the garden hose out, I noticed that the water level in the drain was just below the grate.
 
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Old 07-29-12, 01:13 PM
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It's going to be a matter of trial and error, so bear with us. On the other drain, can you run the hose down it? How far would it go? Further than the other or the same. mark you hose with a marker to see. In either drain have you found an exit for the water, yet?
 
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