Window wells are an important part of creating a livable basement. They allow daylight and fresh air into your basement, keeping it from being dark and dungeon-like. Additionally, they reduce the ways that water can get into your basement and damage your foundation and possessions.
However, owning and maintaining a window well requires a little bit of knowledge and work.
With this quick quide to problems and solutions with window wells, your window-well owning experience can go without a hitch. And you can keep your basement light and dry all season long.
Window well problem 1: keeping it clean
From dirt accumulating on the sides to the drain keeping water from collecting, keeping your window well clean is the most frustrating and time-consuming concern with maintaining your window wells.
If you have a drain that connects to your foundation drainage system, there are some upsides. First, you can hose down the sides of your window well to get off the regular dust and grass clippings that accumulate over time.
On the other hand, you must periodically clear out the drain so that it continues to allow water to flow out. This often involves climbing or reaching into your window well to sweep or vacuum out debris from the grate.
Window well problem 2: small animal rescue
Another problem with window wells is that they often capture unsuspecting creatures. Depending on your location and the time of year, window wells can trap frogs, rabbits, snakes, and other local wildlife.
Fortunately, some window wells are built to handle these situations, and they have stairs or ridges in them that allow animals to safely exit the well.
In other cases though, the best defense is someone from your home periodically checking the window wells and taking the proper steps when an animal is trapped.
Woodchuck trapped in a window well. From Youtube.
What are the proper steps to release an animal from your window well? It definitely depends on the animal.
Window well problem 3: flooding or breaking
A poorly installed or old window well might become susceptible to taking on more water than it can handle. This happens when water is directed into it from an outside source, or when groundwater flows through a broken window well boundary.
In this case, your window well puts your foundation and your basement at risk.
Only the hardiest of fix-it-uppers can handle this repair yourself. If the window well is causing more problems than it is solving, call a waterproofing expert.