Learn how poor drainage can be mistaken for leaky windows. Get tips on how to fix your drainage problems and how to keep your home dry.
LESLIE: Debbie in North Dakota is having a window  situation. What’s going on at your money pit?
TOM: So when you say egress window, where is this? Is this in the basement?
DEBBIE: Right, right.
TOM: OK. And what kind of window is it, stylistically? Is it a slider? Is it a double-hung?
DEBBIE: No, it cranks out.
TOM: It cranks out. So it’s like an awning window.
TOM: OK. Alright, well, and the leakage is occurring in heavy rain or all the time, Debbie?
DEBBIE: Well, it’s in real heavy rain.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And what have you tried to do to fix it? Have you done any caulking ? Have you tried replacing flashing? Anything of that nature?
DEBBIE: OK, we caulked there with seems to be – and we’ve covered the window well but it’s like it’s coming in between the window well and the side of the house or something.
TOM: So is this a leaky window problem or is this a drainage problem? It almost sounds to me like this is a problem with drainage.
DEBBIE: I think maybe it could possibly be drainage. I mean so …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, look, here’s what I want you to do. First of all, go out on a dry day and get a hose and hold the water – hold the hose up on the siding right above this and let it run around the window and see if you could force it to leak. Once we know that the window is not leaking, which I suspect is exactly what you’re going to find, then let’s talk about the drainage condition.
Generally, the problems with drainage are caused by imperfections in the grading, which is the soil around the house. Usually, it’s too flat or it’s graded in or sloped into the house or – and probably more commonly, the gutter system. You may have gutters  that are dumping water out too close to that area, to that corner, to that window. I’ve seen, in my experience, those window wells fill up like a fish tank.
TOM: (chuckling) You look at them from the other side and you see the water level like floating. And so I suspect that this is an issue with grading and drainage more so than an issue with a leaky window.
Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.