If you have a finished basement that you’d like to brighten up, window wells could be your answer. These are a nice addition to your home to give your below level rooms a more appealing feel. But they can also be a flooding hazard. Improperly fitted wells can let in water when it rains or even allow dirt to cave in the opening. Here are some things you can do to protect your basement. Deciding to Install First things first, you will need to assess whether or not having a window well is a good idea for your location. If you live in a low sea level area, chances are, your home doesn’t have a lower level to begin with. But if you’re not, you should still check with a professional contractor before you go ahead with installation. Depending on your city’s guidelines, you may also need to obtain a building permit. Window wells that aren’t code-compliant could make your home more susceptible to flooding and lead to costly repairs. Proper Installation After the surrounding dirt has been cleared for window well installation, a retaining wall will be put in to hold it back. When the dirt is being put back, it is important to grade it so that water will run away from your window. Then you have the option of installing a drainage system inside the well itself. This is a good idea if you live in an area that receives heavy amounts of rain. You can easily have the drain hooked up to the rest of your drainage system outside, or have it run inside your house to a sump pump. Spreading a layer of gravel around the drain will make it easier to empty water, and placing a plastic covering over your window can help prevent water from entering. Keeping Things Tidy Once you have your new wells put in, you’ll need to keep up with regular maintenance. Keep the wells clear of any dirt or debris such as leaves, and check that the drain isn’t being obstructed. You might even want to test out the system yourself by pouring water down the drain. Try loosening the gravel around your drain so that it isn’t getting packed down and prohibiting the water’s flow. It’s a good idea to clean out your window wells at least twice a year in the spring and fall. You’ll want to check to see if the covering you put over the well is in good shape, as cracks or openings will let water in and make it harder to clean out debris. What Can Go Wrong If you happen to delay cleaning your window wells, you’re not alone. Having to keep up wells can be an afterthought for the majority of homeowners, however it’s an important addition to your maintenance list. A blocked drain could give you problems should you have a heavy rain or lots of melting snow, and water accumulation next to windows can cause glass to crack. It’s worth it to keep an eye out for any defects and correct them before they lead to water intrusion.