Basement windows and their adjacent rooms can become susceptible to the hazards brought by snow. At this point, you might wonder how to safeguard these openings and the spaces from snow. Also, should you cover your basement windows for the winter? We researched these questions for you, and here’s what we found.
You should cover basement windows to winterize these openings and the nearby rooms. Protect basements and windows by implementing preventive measures like installing downspout extensions and grading the soil before winter.
Another option is to install a window well cover, particularly for an egress window. Keep reading as we tackle the topics of protecting basement windows and the surrounding spaces in greater detail.
Should You Cover Basement Windows In The Winter?
It’s essential to cover basement windows to winterize them. These openings can be prime spots for leaks, and snow is typically frozen water. Therefore, if snow enters the basement, it can melt and flood the space.
How Do You Protect Basement Windows From Snow?
Homeowners have different options in protecting their basement windows and the adjacent living space from snow and excess moisture. These methods include:
Installing Downspout Extensions
A downspout extension is an attachment to a home’s gutter system. With it, this module helps divert snow and water away from the foundation, protecting the basement window.
Downspout installations are reasonably straightforward procedures. Even DIY beginners may not have a difficult time setting up these add-ons. Below are the steps to follow:
- Measure the outlet. Generally, the downspout’s opening’s measurements should be 2 x 3 or 3 x 4 inches. However, some downspouts may possess round exits, which require unique extensions.
- Connect the extension to the elbow. If the measurements are correct, both parts should attach without requiring special modifications or tools.
- Seal the downspout extension. Use Zipp screws or other sealing equipment to secure the extension in place. Make sure not to screw longer than ½ inches because the material can catch small twigs that may cause clogs.
- Cut the downspout extension. If the add-on’s length is longer than intended, cut it with a hacksaw.
- Raise the downspout extension’s level. Don’t keep the extended opening’s mouth at ground level. Otherwise, snow, water, and debris can build up. Instead, use a brick or wooden block to keep the outlet slightly above the ground.
Additionally, if you're a visual learner, watch this video below to better grasp each of the steps in installing a gutter downspout extension:
Grading The Soil
Prevent basement windows and connected subterranean spaces from getting ruined because of snow by grading the soil. A properly graded ground can help redirect snow and water from the foundation.
Here are the steps to grade your yard:
- Find the high and low points in the foundation. The high point is where the water will start flowing in the wrong direction. As for the low point, this location is where the water will end up.
- Place stakes at the highest and lowest points. The measurement between the stakes will be the ‘run.’
- Measure the ‘rise,’ which is the distance of the low point’s string to the ground.
- Dump dirt at the low point to reverse the grade.
- Smoothen the dirt with a rake.
- Use plywood to pack the dirt.
- Use the opposite side of a rake to slowly pull dirt from the new designated high point to the new low point.
Take note that grading the soil is ideal during dry seasons. Although grading the ground is still possible during the winter, the costs for doing so can skyrocket.
How Do You Keep Snow Out Of Window Wells?
A window well cover can help keep snow out of the openings. These items consist of sheets of metal or plastic that act as shields to prevent water and snow from gathering in window wells. The cover can also make window well cleanup easier than before.
Make sure that the window well cover follows the standards regulated by building codes. For instance, the cover’s size should be 5 square feet and offers an opening of at least 20 inches.
Also, the cover must not require a key or other special tool to open, which would hinder the window well’s ability to act as an escape route during emergencies.
Should You Shovel Snow Away From The Foundation By Window Wells?
Snow, along with other debris, can pile up near window wells, causing high risks of basement flooding. In turn, the removal of snow can avert the instance of water leaking into the basement.
Can Egress Windows Be Installed In The Winter?
It’s possible to install egress windows in the winter, albeit this project will require extra steps to complete. Homeowners may have to break through about a foot of frost before reconstructing the landscape for the window.
A conventional shovel can help remove snow, but doing so can take more time and effort than intended. Those who have the extra cash and want to remove snow from the areas near the basement may want to invest in a ride-on trencher.
For more information about installing egress windows, look into this post: Can You Add An Egress Window To A Basement?
How to Prevent The Basement From Flooding When The Snow Melts
Concrete foundation cracks near basement windows can cause floods, and these threats can appear because of material shrinkage. These imperfections often appear vertical and usually have hairline widths.
However, these small cracks can still let in snow, water, and insects into the basement. In turn, these seemingly minute hazards can become precursors to more troubling dilemmas, like basement floods and insect infestations.
Seal foundation cracks near basement windows by following these steps:
- Remove snow and moisture in the crack with a blow-dryer. Wait 15 minutes to check if the gap becomes damp. If it does, use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to take away the excess moisture.
- Once dried, remove loose concrete and other debris from the crack using a wire brush.
- Block the injection ports by placing a 3-inch nail into the crack.
- Open and mix the two parts of an epoxy sealer until you achieve a uniform gray color.
- Apply some of the mixed sealer onto the base of an injection port. Take note that the amount applied shouldn’t plug up the hole.
- Install the other ports similarly.
- Mix another batch of epoxy sealer but make it a larger batch than the previous set.
- Apply the new sealer into the entire crack with a margin trowel or putty knife. Make sure to spread the sealer with about 1/8-inch thickness.
- Smoothen the sealer using a paintbrush dipped in mineral spirits. Don’t forget to use protective gear when handling mineral spirits because the substance can be toxic.
- If the crack goes through the other side of the wall, inject another batch of epoxy sealer into that side.
- Seal and cut the injection points.
Also, read this post to learn how to protect your basement from leaks: Water Leaking Into The Basement After Heavy Rain - What To Do?
Protecting basement windows from the dangers of snow requires implementing the correct precautionary measures. These measures include installing downspout extensions, grading the soil, and attaching window well covers.
Homeowners may also seal foundation cracks near basement windows to improve the security against basement flooding. The extra steps may cost more time, money, and effort, but these sacrifices can be worth it in the end, knowing that you won't have to worry about basement floods from melted snow.