Creating a window well as a means of egress

As a basement waterproofing company, we often get calls for leaks in the basement during heavy rain fall.  Often times,  cracks and leaks around  a worn and decaying window well is the source for these water problems in the basement..

There are a variety of window well designs available. Some are deep, and closed in on top for safety. Others are shallow and open to the elements. All have the same basic purpose. That’s to admit light through a window in a basement wall.  The well around the window is meant to prevent without water to accumulate or leak past the window pane and down the basement wall.

window well in Toronto basement

Ways to Keep Window Well Water Out

  • Keep Surface Water Away – If water pools around the barrier wall it’s eventually going to find a way through. Make sure the ground slopes away from the well on all three sides, and that there’s no water splashing down directly from the roof. Check the outer side of the wall for any cracks or leaks, and seal suspect joints. If made from brick and mortar, waterproof it from the outside right down to the foundation.


  • Manage the Rain – If your window is entirely below ground level (or just about) then you may like to install a gently sloping roof to keep your basement snug and dry. However the glass will require cleaning regularly and it will no longer be possible to admit fresh air through the window. For that reason, many people prefer to leave their window wells open to the sky. In that case, it’s necessary to install a french drain to lead water that enters the well away.


  • Belts and Braces – As sure as the Good Lord created chickens, every window well has its day when it floods. This is because the roof above might take damage in a storm, or the french drain blocks because it hasn’t been kept clear. In either case, the window well will soon be brimming full of water, and the window becomes your only defense against a flood.

This is why it’s equally important to install a window that’s one hundred per cent waterproof in itself, and to inspect the seals regularly for any wear or damage. Of course, everything will be for naught if someone left the window open before the storm arrived. There’s nothing more capable of ruining your day than a waterfall cascading down into a basement.

creating a decorative garden in window well

The Intelligent Solution

Window wells are an essential feature of any basement – especially if you’re using it as living space – because it admits air and light. If well designed, it also acts as an alternative exit route which some basement might be required by law, depending on your area. By definition it’s also a window opening below the level of the ground. This is a recipe for disaster if the homeowner neglects the window well and lets it fall into decay.

A basement flood is not just another inconvenient insurance claim. There may be no structural damage cover by your insurance company when there’s evidence of neglect. This is definitely not something to attend to on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you finally get round to it.If you’re having some water problems around your window well, or think it might be time to call someone in to take a look at it, give us a call.


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Waterproofing & Foundation Specialists at Nusite Contractors Ltd
As a family-owned waterproofing and foundation repair business with over 30 years of experience in Toronto, we are proud of our work and stand by it with a full warranty. We’re a service company, working for you. We make sure our customers understand the entire building and repair process, and ensure that our work is done properly and made to last.
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