basement room with couch and television

No one wants a waterlogged or unhealthily damp basement, yet the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) estimates 60% of U.S. homes have wet basements, and 38% run the risk of basement mold.1 Plus there’s always the danger of spring snowmelts and rains that can put your basement at risk of outright flooding.

What to do? Read on for a few basic measures you can take to keep your basement dry.

Consider having a sump pump installed if you don’t already have one.

Sump pumps will automatically rid your basement of heavy water infiltration, and they’re not that expensive, especially when weighed against the cost of your deductible. If you do get one or already have one, it’s important to have your sump pump inspected and serviced annually to make sure it’s operating properly. Nationwide Private Client claims adjusters say, based on their experience, that sump pump backups are rare, and that problems most frequently occur because pumps are not maintained, they’re old, or they are simply left unplugged.

If you’re thinking about getting a sump pump installed, or if you already have one, also consider getting a battery backup for your pump. It’s an added measure that ensures your pump will operate during power outages that can occur during big thunderstorms (and who doesn’t experience those from time to time?) or after a major catastrophe.

Keep an eye on your window wells.

Make it a practice to regularly clear away leaves and debris that can pile up in window wells, and check to make sure there’s clearance between the bottom of the window and the earth or bottom of the well. Maintaining space between the two is important because if the bottom of the well meets the bottom of the window, water can easily seep into your basement.

If you live in an area with four seasons, it’s always a good idea to install clear covers over your wells before winter sets in to keep the wells from filling with snow, which can melt and cause moisture problems.

Inspect your drainage system regularly.

Make sure your gutters, downspouts and ground drains stay clear and draining properly away from your home. Install gutters in areas where water does not flow readily away from the home or splashes back onto the wall or foundation.

Does your basement smell moldy or musty?

If your basement smells damp, you may have water seeping through the foundation walls. Call a qualified contractor or foundation specialist who can locate and properly deal with these seeps or leaks. Visible leaks or seeps, no matter how small, should be repaired as soon as possible. Ignoring these signs can lead to serious damage to your health, home and property.

[1] “Wet Basement Solutions: How to Stop the Leaks From Coming,” John D. Wagner, This Old House, (accessed March 9, 2021).
The information used to create this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide Private Client are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.