Home Inspections Ottawa – Window Wells

Window Well Double Check Inspections
Summer takes us to the physically doing part of the life of the home. If there is work to be done outside now is the time to dig in and get to it. As registered home inspectors we find one of the little over looked items is window wells. Installing and maintaining a window well is not difficult if you have the tools and physical strength. Home inspectors usually find foundation crack at a weak points and usually at one of the corners of a basement window. Part of what a window well does is protect the home in this area from the ingress of water. By raising the grade around the window well, we try to lower the possibility of water infiltration through the foundation wall. If we can prevent a water leak then the likelihood of a repair to the foundation wall would be reduced. A crack in the foundation wall will usually cause either a water leak and/ or a structural problem. The most common problem is a water leak. A properly installed window well should help to maintain a dry basement. It is common to find window wells improperly installed and collecting debris. A leak could be found by the inspection and use of thermographic equipment. Infrared thermographic equipment is sensitive to temperature differences so a water leak should be a different temperature than the foundation and surrounding materials and could be identified by a Thermal/Infrared Thermographer, Level I. Window wells can be made from wood cribbing, concrete, stone or the most common prefabricated corrugated galvanized steel. Galvanized steel window wells are the most common and we will be discussing them. The overall installation is similar for the other types. During new construction window wells are installed before the grade is completed. We assume that the window well is not installed for your home. The window well area, when possible is usually dug down to the weeping tiles. The galvanized steel window well is then mechanically fasted to the wall and a sealant is applied between the wall and window well. A 100mm dia. flexible perforated pipe is placed in vertically in the center of the hole, beside the foundation wall. Clear stone, (usually 25mm or 20mm) is used to fill the hole just below the sill if the window. The term “clear stone” implies all the fine particles have been removed and as such, water will drain easier. The top of the pipe and clear stone should be about 50mm below the bottom of the window sill. Clear plastic covers can be installed over to protect from water and snow and also to allow daylight into the lower area of the building. Window wells are easily maintained. By keeping hoses, children’s’ toys and other implements out of the well, the water will run freely down to the weeping tiles which connect to the storm water management system. Debris such as leaves and grass can block the water also from flowing freely, which in turn can back up and start to leak through a crack in the foundation wall.

Window Well DCIDuring the course of one of our home inspection we found this home in need of a window well. A water leak could occur since the earth is at or above the window sill.

Window Well DCIInspection of this home shows we have a window well but notice that the earth is still far below the top edge of the steel well. In addition the grade has settled and now needs to be raised to maintain a slope away from the foundation. As part of the home inspection process we identify potential problems and provide solutions. If the home owner was to raise the grade beside the foundation he should feel confident that the snow and rain will drain away from the home and help keep the basement dry.

Window Well DCIDuring the home inspection of this home we find an example of ground cover, blocking out the weeds and a positive slope away from the foundation providing good drainage away from the foundation and protecting the building from water infiltration.

Equipment Required:

  • Measuring tape, level, shovel, drill, carbide drill bit, caulking, caulking gun, concrete screws, gravel, rake, flexible perforated drainage pipe, utility knife and appropriate safety equipment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *