Renovation & Design

Here's to staying high and dry

Mustard shares some water wisdom

Photos by Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

It took 37 dump trucks full of dirt to raise Mustard’s shed to this height and keep it dry.

One of these window wells should help keep the snow and subsequent water out of your basement.

Please let this be the last of winter.

Let’s talk water. Since I wrote this Tuesday, I have no idea how much snow will have arrived by today. I do know however, that whatever it is, it’ll be too much. It’s the middle of April!

I also know it’s going to melt, and follow gravity wherever it leads, some of it going into peoples’ basements.

I know how that feels. Very unpleasant. Many years ago, might have been the spring of the Blizzard of ‘86, we were experiencing our first thaw in a new’ish house we’d moved into mid-winter, I think, which was only 6 years old. It sat high enough for regular run-off not to be a problem, but not high enough, apparently, to escape surprise flood water from the drainage creek that flowed beside it, which suddenly rose very quickly from a blockage closer to the river.

In no time that water scooted straight to the basement windows which not only had no window wells, but also had the earth grading down towards them.

Found its way into the basement LIKE THAT!

Shortly thereafter I prepped the windows for proper drainage, installed galvanized window wells, so if that creek “surf’ed up” again some day, no worries.

But I got thinking about some of you because of this last snowy blast, and the potential you may face for surprise minor tsunamis invading your space, and suggest you have a look at your basement windows now for a quick pre-emptory check. You may want to re-caulk around the outside perimeter of the window frame, and if you have windows that open, perhaps even temporarily caulk that seam as well to prevent any seepage. Use poly and sandbags around the window if you think that’s a worthwhile precaution, whatever it takes to fortify against possible flood water. Then when everything dries up, reno’ your window wells to insure proper drainage.

I asked a pro construction buddy of mine, Blaine Reimer of Fusion Homes, if one could somehow entice the kids or grandkids to dig down to the weeping tile, put some limestone in the hole to allow flow from above, then maybe install a galvanized window well for added protection.

He told me that’s actually being done by professionals, who starting about a foot each side of the window, and as far out as one needs to work in the hole, dig down close to the weeping tile. They then dig about a 16 inch by 16 inch hole down to the weeping tile, carefully so as not to damage it, then fill the entire hole with ¾ clean limestone up to just below the window. Then install whatever size window well is needed to finish the job. If the exterior of your foundation needs a bigger repair, so be it, but you can do a sufficient DIY window well renewal with a little help from your kids, grandkids, and beer drinking friends.

If you have concerns regarding the health of your weeping tile itself, talk to a professional about how to determine if you have proper flow, and they might even recommend having your system scoped (the weeping tile) to check for blockages, root interference or even a collapsed spot. Weeping tile woes can cause expensive problems. Best to have it working properly.

Our last bit of water wisdom to pass along today is if you’re having a big shed built on your property (I have one that is 42 feet by 60 feet), unless it has good run off, get it built with the floor elevated by maybe a foot above ground level. I did, no water problems. A guy I know with a shed like mine but not elevated is currently pumping water out of it non-stop. Not happy. Nobody needs that. Happy weekend, stay dry.

Comments and column ideas welcome!


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