The window well is an important part of the drainage system that protects your basement from moisture leakage. It’s especially important because windows are a common weak point for foundations, and  the barrier around them can wear down over time. 

On many, typically older homes, these window wells are defined by a metal or plastic barrier around the window, and that’s about it. However, more and more often you’ll also see gravel or rocks at used at the base of a larger window well. Is this necessary?


What Makes A Good Window Well?

A window well is a space dug out just outside a basement window, defined by plastic or ribbed metal in the shape of a “U”. It’s designed to provide some space between the window and the surrounding earth, allowing light into the below-ground portions of a building. Window wells play an important role in draining excess rainwater away from your foundation, but homeowners often do not know when a window well has been properly installed until it’s too late. 

The window well is important for preventing water from seeping into the basement through the window frame. Weaknesses are common around windows that aren’t entirely above ground, so when this basement feature is installed, the builder should be considering drainage as much as anything else. One material often used to help with drainage at the bottom of window wells is small rocks or crushed gravel. 


Why Are Rocks Used In Window Wells?

A common method to help with window well drainage is to place several inches of gravel at the bottom. This will allow the water to dissipate into the ground slowly to the weeping tile system, rather than sit in the soil next to the window. The rocks have an added benefit: they help filter debris that would work into and clog the weeping tile system. Even so, you should still clear out the debris that does accumulate in the rock a couple of times a year. If the window well is flooding, you could have a lot of gunk and debris blocking the downwards movement of water.

There isn’t really a minimum level of rocks in your window well, but the levels should be appropriate given the depth of it (and going deep is always better). However, the window well should definitely not be overfilled. This increases the risk of flooding and windows breakage. 

While it sounds too simple to be true, adding the right amount of gravel or crushed stone, along with a cover for your metal window well, can easily stop moisture from seeping into your foundation. They work like a crushed round stone barrier to protect one of the most vulnerable parts of your home from moisture. It’s quite an easy thing to install, too – a shovel and some crushed pebble or gravel will do the trick, but if you’re unsure about what you can do, call the Ashworth team and we’ll give you a hand!