Home or Structure Flooding

Protecting a home and its contents from damage due to surface water runoff and groundwater can be a major concern for many homeowners. It's important to understand a home's drainage system in order to identify when problems may occur.

Home Drainage System

Understanding how your property’s stormwater drainage system functions can help protect your home from flooding.

Above Ground/Surface Water

The above ground drainage system surrounding your home that directs surface water away from the structure is made up of your yard, gutters and downspouts and sump pump discharge pipe. Looking around the exterior of your home and yard can help identify any problems that could contribute to a flooded structure. 

  • Grading - the ground surrounding your home, as well as walkways and driveways, should slope away from your home. 
  • Roofs - Rooftops should have gutters with downspouts that are extended away from the home’s foundation.
  • Sump Pump Discharge - If your home has a sump pump, the exterior discharge should be extended away from the home and foundation. 

Learn more about controlling surface water

Below Ground/Subsurface Water

The majority of homes with basements are built with a subsurface drainage system, also referred to as a foundation drain. The main components include gravel backfill, perimeter drain tile and a sump pump. These components function best when surface water is handled properly, as described above. 

Learn more about controlling subsurface water

Common Causes of Flooding and Solutions 

There are a number of potential ways a home can flood. In the event that your home does flood, it is important to determine the source to help prevent future flooding occurrences.

Sump Pump Failures

Sump pump failures can contribute to a flooded basement; however, it is important to troubleshoot the specific problem of the sump pump.

  • If water is rising out of your sump pump pit, it is because your sump pump cannot keep up with the flow entering the drain system below your foundation.  Please check the ground conditions noted above. If the problem persists, consider purchasing a larger pump or an additional pump with separate discharge pipe.
  • If the pump is running, but no water appears to be discharging, the pump could have a mechanical problem or the outlet pipe could have a blockage. Please consult a plumber for help.
  • Power outages can be a source of concern during a rain event. A back-up battery sump pump can help alleviate this problem, but only for a short period without supplemental power from a generator.
  • Sump pumps should be discharged at least 10 feet away from the exterior of a home in a way that lets the water flow towards a swale or storm sewer inlet. Discharge pipes should never be director towards a home's foundation or into a window well.
  • Sump pumps cannot be connected to the sanitary sewer or your basement floor drain. If there is a storm sewer in your yard, you may be able to connect your sump pump discharge directly to it, at your own cost. Please call (630) 305-5369 for more information on this.

Learn More about Sump Pumps

Basement Seepage (through walls or floor cracks)

If water is seeping through cracks or joints in the foundation walls or floor, ensure that surface water is being kept away from the home’s foundation. If the problem persists, contact a waterproofing professional to have them inspect and appropriately seal the foundation.

Learn more about preventing seepage problems

Window Well Overflow

If water is flowing into your basement from a window well, ensure that surface water is being kept away from the opening of the window well. The drains located in the window well may also be blocked. A plumber or waterproofing specialist may be able to correct this problem.

When dealing with window well overflowing:

  • Ensure that the ground/soil around the foundation is at least six (6) inches below the lowest siding. Further, the ground around the window well should slope/drain away from the foundation. This minimizes the amount of water that may go to the window well and foundation.
  • Consider adding a window well cover. Window well covers are available for purchase one at most local home improvement stores. Window well covers block water from entering the window well. 
  • Consider purchasing vertical extensions to add to the window well. These extensions make the window well “taller” and prevent any water from entering the structure. 

Sanitary Backups (through the floor drain)

If water is rising from a floor drain, sink or toilet, there may be a back-up of the sanitary sewer. Contact the Water Utility at (630) 420-6137.

Learn more about preventing sewer backflow