What is a Window Well
The primary function of a window well is to maintain a safe distance between the bottom of the window and the line of grade.
This means that if the soil become higher than the bottom of the basment window then a well is required. So if you have window wells, this is likely why they are there.
Over the past 50 years wells have been added to many homes for many reason. Terential rains are not common but do happen and homes with windows on the down hill side of a slope are subject to flooding.
Flooding commonly occurs with windows that have window well too. Many home owners and handimen with good intentions installed window wells not taking into account that the window well is basically a fish bowl if there is not drain installed.
We have seen sump pumps and home made syphon contraptions trying to deal with the oversite.
A well drain is simply a chimney that runs from the top of the well to the weeping tile that surrounds the home at the footing level. This chimney drain give the water a place to go.
What do you do if your home does not have weeping tile... The best solution, install weeping and prolong the life of your home by many many years.
What type of material are window wells made from?
The materials used to construct a window well can be anything that will retain the soil that the well is meant to keep back. Most popular it the corragated metal well, but can be made with treated wood such as 4x6 or cast in concrete. Cast concrete require substantial anchouring compared to the other choices.
Do not over look the well drain!
A 4-6 inch core in the backfill from the very bottom of the well to the top of the weeping tile is required. The effectiveness of the core is increased by maintaining a clean hole. Removing all the soil right up to the rock that covers the existing weeping tile.
Once the hole has been tested and proves to maintain the constant flow of water from a garden hose or several 5 gallon bucket of water its time to drop in a perfeated pipe the full depth of the hole and fill it and around it with washed rock. The washed rock will be used to fill the bottom 6-8 inches of the window well too.
This photo below is a newly installed window well that prior to the drain being installed let water into the house through the window.
The well had been installed correctly, its connection to the foundation and depth was spot on... But!
Not having a drain turned the hard work done by the previous "contractor" into heartacke for the customer. We were able to clean out the well, excavate and prove the new drain was operating prior to back filling it all with washed rock. There were two window wells on the same wall and it only made sense to complete both at the same time.