I'm in an old house that occasionally gets water in the basement. The basement isn't finished so it isn't a big deal if some water comes in right now. The problem right now is that there's a drain in the poured concrete floor, but the floor isn't perfectly level and the drain seems to be at the highest point in the floor. So the water flows everywhere except for the drain.

How can I get the water that comes in to flow towards the drain? I've considered cutting channels in the floor for water to flow, but I'm wondering if there's an easier and less drastic solution.

Right now, I'm just looking for a stop-gap. I've done all the little things I can to improve drainage from my house and stop water from coming in. Sealing the foundation and fixing the poorly-designed window wells isn't a job I can tackle right now.

  • Where is the water coming in? Through the wall? Between the floor and the wall? From an outside basement stairwell?
    – SteveSh
    Jan 13, 2020 at 17:46
  • On one side of my house, the bottom of the door sits a few inches below the driveway, so water can just pour into it. There are also two small windows, without window wells, that sit just as low. I think some water also seeps in through the foundation wall, though I need to scrape all the parging off before I can see where exactly
    – Billiam
    Jan 13, 2020 at 18:08
  • The door being below the driveway sounds like the main problem. Is there any way you can channel or divert the water from the driveway away from the door? Hard to recommend anything more specific without having any pictures to go by. Once you take care of that, go after the windows.
    – SteveSh
    Jan 13, 2020 at 18:18
  • Yeah it's for sure a big part of the problem, though most of the water comes in under one of the windows. So I'm thinking of just fully sealing it with plexiglass or even bricking it up (can't put a window well cover since there's no window well to cover). I might dig up the part of the driveway in front of and past the door, I can live without it. Putting an awning over the door might stop some of the water that hits the door and flows down it
    – Billiam
    Jan 13, 2020 at 18:51
  • Can you build up the ground around the offending window to create a shallow dam? Or make a swale? I don't know what kind of ground slopes you have around your house.
    – SteveSh
    Jan 13, 2020 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


I have a similar situation, water seeping in to the unfinished basement but spreading while on its way to the sump pump/drain. I cleaned the floor area, and when completely dry used Gap Filler foam and sprayed two chanel walls to almost create a viaduct affect. Once dry you can take a blade and shave the foam to your liking or need. Works great and isn't really permanent, can be scraped up at anytime. Cheap solution, very little prep. Good luck out there.

  • Great idea, thanks! I was thinking silicone but gap filler is probably even easier
    – Billiam
    Jul 10, 2023 at 15:33

Depending on how out of level your concrete floor is, filling in the uneven surface with self-leveling concrete could improve the slope and drainage of the floor. Odd that the drain is at the highest point, but in an old house it could have settled over time. A quick search for self-leveling concrete at a big-box home improvement store brought up a product that can fill from a feathered edge thickness to 1.5" of variation.

If you just want to get any puddles of standing water into the drain, a shop broom or long-handled squeegee could be used to push the water toward the drain.

  • Yeah, I currently use a big squeegee to pull the water towards the drain. I've considered self-leveling concrete, though I'm not sure how to use that to get the water to flow to the drain. Best case, I get the floor perfectly level and then the water spreads out everywhere evenly
    – Billiam
    Jan 13, 2020 at 18:12
  • if it's level, the water can't get too deep. if it can't get too deep, it will dry itself out quickly. a sprinkle of detergent on the floor will lower the height at which it self-drains.
    – dandavis
    Jan 13, 2020 at 19:15

I have a similar issue, where the water that is seeping in from the foundation walls (under the sprayfoam insulation) pools in one end where there is a small drywell. The drywell fills up if we get too much water too fast. And if it gets to a certain amount, it starts to flow toward the actual sump pump pit...great. But.... it's pitched a little sideways too, so some water flows right past it, and collects around my boiler. The boiler is safely up on 4" of blocking, so that's fine, but its difficult to remove that water once it is laying over there. Sample creation Pics Here: (will post more when I actually try my luck in the basement) https://i.sstatic.net/ajzVW.jpg

Also, when I try to squeegee the water from the overflown drywell over TO the sump pit, it spreads too far left and right, getting under the Oil tank and generally going other places I don't want it to.

So, I decided to get creative with concrete. I did not want to cut into the floor, as I feel it might introduce more potential issues. Instead, I imagined putting some strategically placed small 1" or less tall speedbumps formed from concrete that form mini-dams funneling the water as I squeegee directly to the hole. Several of these can be placed radially like spokes of a wheel toward the sump pit. Also, I think I may put one around the boiler about a foot away to just keep everything away from there.

I think this is a pretty solid idea...I plan to paint them bright yellow or orange like speedbumps so I can see them easily and no one trips. Haven't laid them down yet, because I have just been tinkering with various methods of forming it to the size that I want. I think I've come up with a pretty good forming tool that I made from a plastic bottle with a fairly large mouth (little larger than a Gatorade mouth.) I think it might have been a baby bottle? Comes out pretty professional looking.

  • Welcome to Home Improvement! If you'll take a moment to take the tour, you'll see that this is specifically a Question & Answer board, not a general discussion forum. As such, we expect to find an answer to the question asked in the box labeled "Answer". To be honest, it looks like you've got the makings of a good answer here, but it's a little unclear and buried in a lot of text that looks like you're getting ready to ask a nearly identical question. If you'll edit your answer to really focus on the answer (and maybe provide a pic or 2), I think you've got a good solution here.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 22, 2021 at 12:30
  • 1
    will update soon
    – Crusheen
    Aug 26, 2021 at 8:51

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