“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” – Marian Wright Edelman
Window wells and window well drains are installations that play an integral part of any below-grade window installations. Homeowners enjoy the feel of natural light in their basements; but drainage and waterproofing considerations need to be kept in mind. Improperly installed or un-maintained window wells are most susceptible to leakage and/or cracking inside the foundation walls. Proper window well installations will afford a tight (below grade) water seal around the window frame itself; keeping the concrete foundation wall, window lintel and interior finish intact. Tip: Your eavestrough and downspouts need to be free of debris to carry the large volumes of water from your roof away from your foundation; your window wells require the same consideration. Over time, leaves and debris build up inside your window well preventing drainage to the weeping tile system below.
HERE’S HOW WE DO IT
Many exotic repair methods exist for window well repairs, installations and remediation, but none of these repairs have stood the test of time. The notion of ‘covering’ the window well opening with plastic covers or drilling holes from the interior to ‘drain’ the window well itself is just disastrous. Below-grade window openings and/or venting are naturally susceptible to water infiltration and damage by mother nature. The concept is to prevent the water from reaching the concrete foundation wall in the first place. A vertical drain within the window well will direct the water below grade to the weeping tile before reaching the foundation wall.
THE VERTICAL DRAIN
If you look inside your window well you will see a layer of gravel, this is called a gravel bed. The vertical drain is beneath the gravel bed. This gravel bed and vertical drain are efficiently designed to direct volumes of rainwater directly to the existing weeping tile system located below grade; at the footing level of the structure.
The damage that stems from inoperable window wells existing within the vertical drain or lack thereof. Other factors leading to your window well malfunctions are:
- Improper choice materials for this main vertical drain.
- Filling the drain with gravel.
- Damaging the drain during backfill and/or powertamping.
- Not installing enough gravel above the drain to protect is from sediment, leaves or any other intrusive materials that may get into the window well drain.
Once that drain is blocked and/or not draining, there is no cost effective or reliable way of cleaning this drain out. Full replacement is the only way to guarantee a positive flow moving forward.
FROM THE TOP
If an existing window well is damaged and/or leaking, hand excavation takes place around the well. Once the well is removed it is placed away from the repair area. Excavation then continues to the existing weeping tile system usually 7ft – 8ft below grade to the footing. Once the weeping tile system is exposed the foundation wall is cleaned off with a wirebrush and inspection of the concrete wall takes place. If a window well has been inoperable for upwards of 24 months, the damaged concrete foundation wall will simultaneously be repaired during the installation of the new vertical drain.
DOING IT RIGHT – REPAIR CONCRETE WALL
Once the foundation wall is cleaned and inspected, any cracks or damaged tie-rod holes are repaired by hand with hydraulic cement. Hydraulic cement expands when it cures; unlike S-type masonry which shrinks on cure. After the hydraulic cement cures, it offers an excellent initial-step in stopping moisture penetration through the foundation itself.
The foundation wall, within the excavated area, is then primed to receive the first layer of rubberized membrane. The primer ensures the membranes perfect adhesiveness to the surface of the wall.
RUBBERIZED MEMBRANE – FIRST COAT
This is applied directly onto the primer, with a generous first coast of approximately 5/16′.
Fibreglass mesh is then installed which impregnates the first layer of Hydroshield membrane.
RUBBERIZED MEMBRANE – SECOND COAT
A second coat of Hydroshield is installed on top of the fiberglass mesh; creating the backbone of our primary rubberized membrane patch.
PLASTIC LAYER PROTECTION
Next, a 10mil plastic layer is installed on top of our rubberized membrane which will protect the fresh waterproofing patch repair upon backfill.
PLATON DRAINAGE BOARD – FURTHER PROTECTION
Platon drainage board is then fastened from the top of the repair area all the way down to the footing. Platon is then trimmed around the existing window opening and its edges are secured firmly to the foundation wall with concrete anchors. Inspection of the existing weeping tile system is mandatory now that the repair of the concrete wall within the window well is complete.
The next step is to install a fresh 4″ vertical drain from the existing weeping tile system located at the footing, up to the bottom ledge of the window well opening; located at grade.
FRESH VERTICAL DRAIN INSTALL – WINDOW WELL
This fresh 4″ vertical drain, with proper filtercloth technologies, will drain the window well into the functioning weeping tile system below. To keep the window well drain level, it is then fastened to the foundation wall. Next, 8″ of ¾” clear gravel is installed at the footings to lock both systems in place. Backfill of the excavation with powertamping is then required to guarantee minimal settlement. As the backfill reaches approximately 8″ below the bottom side of window opening at grade, a fresh window well will be reinstalled into the foundation walls. 8″ of ¾” clear gravel is then installed on top of the fresh 4″ vertical drain and the exterior of the window well is backfilled. This essentially constitutes a complete vertical drain replacement and rubberized membrane installation within the applications of a standard window well.
The most important variable in a working and reliable window well installation is the vertical drain itself. All damage, cracking and water penetration into the basement originates from the lack of a window well drain being present, an improper drain installation, or a drain that is completely blocked and/or crushed. If the ground water has nowhere to go, the window well itself will essentially fill up with water similar to an aquarium. Eventually, the water will pass-through the foundation wall and right into the basement itself; creating damage to the wall. A completely guaranteed, turnkey window well repair requires full excavation to the footings, a full masonry repair to damaged areas, and a robust and reliable rubberized membrane installation with a perfectly protected vertical drain installation. Any other exotic methodology is simply untrue, unproven and inexperienced overall.
6 Step Repair Process:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Underpinning a Century Home
Complete underpinning detail with combined structural I-BEAM replacement and installation within a heritage structure in west-end Toronto.
Interior Weeping Tile System Installation
The complete installation of a 4″ interior weeping tile system combined with a sump box and sump pump.
Sump Pump Installation
1/3hp cast iron oil-cooled sump basin and pump installation with a 12VDC battery-backup system (with combined current alarm).
Garage Floor Installation
Installation of a fresh concrete garage floor at 32MPA with exterior expansion joint integration at a dimension of approximately 30ft x 25ft.
Addition vs Underpinning?
What is the difference between building an addition vs underpinning? Why is underpinning more advantageous?
So, What’s Next?
Step One To Three. When we say The Arc, we are talking not only about the company or the team. We are talking about our wonderful customers. We would never find motivation and the strength to do our job without all of them. We are proud of our clients.
Observe and Document
Observe and identify the foundation leak or structural deficiency and document.
The moment a foundation issue is detected, narrow down the area in your basement right away. Feel free to move any furniture, couches or carpet that are in the way to allow us to make evaluation process easier. On the exterior of foundation wall, take note of your existing grade, shrubbery, trees, water taps or any variable that may be contributing to the leak. Remember, don’t forget to check your eavestroughs!
Submit A Request Online
Complete our Request form here, and include as many photos and details as you can.
If you prefer to contact us online through email, please click here. We can help guide you through the most common foundation culprits to help save you time and money, and help you avoid the pitfalls of misdiagnosis or faulty repairs. If the issue is structural in nature, ask us about our engineering options. We offer free estimates, and we can help you make the best choice to stay high and dry for years to come
Call Us at (905) 824 2557
Or you can call us directly! Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 8AM – 5PM
If you would prefer to call us directly, we are available between Monday and Friday 8AM – 5PM. Let us guide you through the most common foundation culprits to help you avoid the pitfalls of misdiagnosis or faulty repairs. If the issue is structural in nature, ask us about our engineering options. We offer free estimates, and can guide you over the phone to help you make the best choice to stay high and dry.
WE ARE THE ORIGINAL
full service basement waterproofing and structural foundation repair specialists in the gta.