Basement Flooding: Common Causes - Part 2

Welcome back to our blog! Last week, we began discussing the common causes of flooded basements. In most cases, flooded basements are the result of a clog in the sewer or storm sewer that causes it to back up in your home (gross!). Other causes are connected mostly with the drainage systems of our West Michigan gutters and landscapes. To learn more, read part 1!

Clogged Gutters

As mentioned earlier, clogged gutters can be the culprit of a flooded basement and can be prevented. As part of your home maintenance before winter and after—and any other time your trees may be producing leaves, seed pods, or other items that could find their way into your gutters—you should clear your gutter of leaves, dirt, and other debris. A means to avoid having to clean your gutters as much is to install mesh on top of your gutters. Talk to your local home improvement expert as to the type of mesh that is ideal, as well as the best way to install it.

Insufficient Gutters

Clogged gutters are not the only reason why your gutters might be to blame for a flooded basement. Sometimes the gutters installed are not sufficient for your home or the amount of water that you deal with during the rainy season. The best way to see if you need to make a modification to your gutters is to first clean the gutter and see if this fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, then you may be in need of installing a few more downspouts. The extra downspouts can act as backups for when the other downspouts are insufficient. Instead of installing extra downspouts, you could also install a larger one. Keep in mind though, if you choose to install a bigger one, you need to make the hole for it in the gutter larger, as well.

Downspout Distance

Another cause for basement flooding can be downspout distance. If your downspouts are not far enough from your home’s foundation, you will probably experience foundation erosion and eventual flooding in your basement. To avoid this, examine your downspouts and drainage system. Is your downspouts causing the flooding? If so, how much longer does it seem like they need to be? As a general rule, it is best for your downspouts to extend 10 feet from your home. This, however, is the minimum distance; it can be beneficial for your downspouts to extend farther.

Landscape Slope

If your gutters seem to be in working order and your downspouts are functioning well, you may need to check the slope of your landscape. Does your landscape slope down away from your house? There should be about eight inches between the earth around your house’s foundation and any wood or stucco of your home. When analyzing the situation, check for any divots or impressions in the ground that could potentially collect water. Often times even the smallest hole or depression near the foundation can eventually cause problems due to erosion. When filling in holes, as well as when examining the ground around your foundation, be sure to fill in with ground material that will not let the water flow through such as sand. Choose clay-type soil that will shed the water instead. If you have filled in any holes near your foundation and have sufficient slope, check the ground nearby. Hills and other landscape features can affect the drainage of nearby homes. If you feel this is the case, contact your civil engineer to see what can be done.


These are a few of the main ways that flooding can occur in your basement. Stay tuned for another post about other causes that can create havoc in your home.

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