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My Basement window with wood frame is leaking - photo attached

My Basement window with wood frame is leaking - photo attached


Old 06-15-12, 09:09 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 71
Question My Basement window with wood frame is leaking - photo attached

I bought an old house recently... the basement was refinished and is getting quite a bit of water when it rains heavy. I see the water coming in from under the sheetrock on the floor beneath the basement window - and the sheetrock is wet going straight down from the window.

There was no window well (the window was about 3 inches above the dirt), so I dug out a two foot deep one (no drain - its right next to a paved driveway so I dont have much room to work - ideas?) - I need to go out there during torrential rain to see if the well fills up - but there is a guttered overhang half covering the area so I'd be surprised if that well ever overflowed with water.

I've since covered the well with a plastic sheet and havent had any leaks - so I'm confident that the water is coming in thru the window - not seeping thru other foundation cracks or anything like that.

If you look at these photos, I believe the water is coming in between the concrete and the wood, and/or between the wood and the vinyl window. Obviously there is no flashing over the wood and no caulking even. A friend suggested two things: one, get a bigger window and lose the wood framing - but that would be custom I'm sure and I have $ restrictions. Also, when looking at the window from the inside, you dont see the wood frame, so they've butted up the sheet rocked window sill to the vinyl (I dont want to re-do interior work). The second option he suggested was to use some mortar and mortar an angled ledge all the way around from the foundation concrete right up to the vinyl, essentially covering all of the wood and closing that gap. If anyone agrees with that approach please help me with the specifics (material type, etc)

Also, to me it looks like there is flashing missing on the bottom of the vinyl - though the window sill inside is dry and dusty still so I dont think water is currently coming thru any part of the window itself. (This window swings down inwards, its not a slider)

There is no room to change the grading of the soil. And I dont want to put a well cover over the window because there is living space down there already with little natural light.

Any ideas and thoughts?

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Old 06-15-12, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: wisconsin
Posts: 70
I had the same problem. I corrected it by nocking out the windows and replacing it with glass brick. Some of then had a screen in the middle incase I needed air flow in the basement. Bought at the local big box store. They still let in the light they also added a little bit of secerity with not being able to see into and they can't break into very easly. Pluys they look nice.
Old 06-15-12, 09:56 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 71
I really dont like glass block - becasue I want to see thru the window, also want a window that fully opens. Though its not legally an egress window, its big enough for an emergency escape. That being said - I dont want to seal the window shut like that. I also dont like the look of glass block - and either way, unless the dimension was identical to the dimensions of the blocks, I'm still going to end up with some sort of framing necessary no matter what. So I think I need to figure out options of sealing up that framing better, as well as options for draining the well.
Old 06-15-12, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
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Based on what I can see, there is a fair bit of a lip at the bottom of the window from the extra wood frame. It looks like the wood framing is butted to wood frame the window sits in.

I wonder if removing the lower piece of wood (replacing the others to adjust for the missing piece) then adding flashing and the appropriate caulking would solve the water issues. It would remove the ledge that is catching the water and allowing it to go under the window.

I am no expert in windows, but am a DIYer that is currently dealing with insulating newer windows that where installed using random methods throughout the house.

Could you post some close ups of the lower section of the window? I would like to see if what is there is what I think I am seeing (pictures are a bit small).
Old 06-15-12, 10:25 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
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Sure thing, they are very high res photos - just compressed for web - so I'll crop into it.

I'm not sure I'm following you, maybe you can clarify after you see this closeup. Thanks!
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Old 06-15-12, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
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Looking at the close up, I see what I think is rot directly under the window. The outer frame looks like it is pretty weathered as well.
If I am seeing this correct, I would strongly suggest pulling the rotten wood frame out and replace it.
You'll also want to build up the concrete a bit on the bottom with a slope away from the window.

Unfortunately (or fortunate for me), I have not had to completely rebuild a frame for my windows, only replace like for like. Hopefully one of the pros will pipe up and give you the information on how to properly do a frame and suggest materials needed.
Old 06-15-12, 09:11 PM
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LOL, no caulking would be a problem worth fixing. Also there appears to be an unsealed gap directly under the window. Looks to me you could slip a putty knife right under the window, and maybe right past the right side of the replacement window (basement hopper). Most windows like that need to sit on a sill expander, an L shaped piece of vinyl that takes up the gap between the sloped sill and the square bottom of the window. I don't see anything there where a sill expander should be.

Windows like that (window well with no drain) really need to be covered to shield them from rain. They do make plastic window well covers just for this purpose.
Old 06-16-12, 05:07 AM
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I agree with all. Most important is to check into the possibility of creating a drain for the window. Nothing you are planning will work permanently if water cannot get out of the well naturally.
Old 06-19-12, 07:17 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
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From all your feedback, it sounds like I should take out the whole window and replace the wood since its rotting, caulk it. Install a sill expander, and mortar a slope along the bottom of the window. While I'm mortaring, I'll probably mortar along the side edges also just to cover any exposed wood. And then do something about he drain. Sound good?

Any ideas on creating that drain? See my very detailed and realistic drawing below, the window well is in a bed of shrubs thats about 2 feet deep butting up against the driveway and there are shrubs on both sides of the well so I dont realyl have room to dig out or route a drain - so I'm thinking - pump? if so what am I looking for, any ideas on routing it out?

____________Foundation Wall_____+___
\ shrubs |__well__| shrubs
. \_________________________________

. . . . . . . . Driveway


the + sign indicates an outdoor electric outlet thats about 8 feet away which might be handy for a pump

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