How can we keep our basement window wells from leaking?

What are the proper maintenance steps for basement window wells so that they don’t fill with water over the winter?

Assuming the well was properly built to begin with, simply cleaning out all accumulated dirt and debris could get it draining efficiently again. If some water leaks into your basement in the spring, you need to take a close look at the windows themselves. Even if the drainage is excellent, there’ll be times, in spring especially, when the ground is still frozen but the snow and ice in a well are melting. That’s when your windows are most vulnerable. They should be completely sealed and all joints should be caulked. If they aren’t watertight, consider replacing them.

A well-built window well should have at least 30 centimetres of crushed stone with the top of the stone ending below the windowsill. It’s likely that contractors will also install a vertical piece of perforated drain tile before adding the crushed stone, though it’s not always necessary. Another key to a dry basement is controlling surface water runoff. Make sure eavestroughs are sound so they’re collecting all the water, and downspout extensions are draining it well away from the cottage.