Early in spring, when the ground was frozen and there was still a feet of snow in the yard, heavy rain filled my basement window well with water. The ground around my house is very sandy, so the water carried sand into the well.

As you can see on this picture, there is a drain, but I suspect it got clogged with sand. The cover seems stuck (or glued) so I cannot check easily. The red stick is a broom stick showing that a gap formed between by house and the ground, caused by the incoming water.

I tried to work on removing the sand, but looks like sand got everywhere beneath the gravel.

So now, how should I proceed?

enter image description here

  • Maybe a dumb question, but why do you care if you have sand in your window well? Water will filter through the sand as well as gravel, though not as fast. That said, it is important to keep sand and other debris out of the drain.
    – SteveSh
    Jun 7, 2022 at 0:52
  • Don't use gravel after you clean it out -- use "#2 river rock." Please see my related answer diy.stackexchange.com/a/250043/74694. Interesting to see a drain inside the window well -- I've never seen that before. Can you check whether a neighbor has something similar? It would be good to know where that thing drains to when it's not clogged. Jun 7, 2022 at 5:34
  • Maybe fill the sink hole with concrete. Jun 7, 2022 at 5:52
  • Yes it's fairly common to have this type of drain in a window well. The sand in the window well concerns me just because it can get into the drain.
    – Danny T.
    Jun 17, 2022 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


I would first see that the well is sealed to the building. It seems that the sand is washing into the well where the well meets the building. Second I would see that the ground is pitched away from the building so when it rains water does not run towards the building. Third I would insure that the gutters are clear and any downspouts direct water away from the house. Address those three things as well as the answer from @MonkeyZeus and you should be fine.

  • I thought the water-sand mixture was also washing over the top of the window well (metallic structure) because of the snow and ice cover. Jun 7, 2022 at 5:42
  • Sand and water came from the gap between the well and the basement wall, but also from beneath it, since it stops shortly below the gravel line.
    – Danny T.
    Jun 17, 2022 at 13:21
  • Also, I did test my drain with a hose. It could fill up the drain with water when it should be able to remain empty. So I will have to excavate, clear the drain and rebuild the well, including what is explained in this answer.
    – Danny T.
    Jun 17, 2022 at 14:25

So now, how should I proceed?

A shovel, wheelbarrow, and some sweat.

If the sand is not supposed to be in the gravel then you need to remove the contaminated gravel and shake/wash the sand off of it before storing it in a pile. There is no magic vacuum for this. Just keep shoveling until you hit dirt.

By doing this you will reveal how that drain is assembled and will give you a better idea of your options for unclogging it.

After you've hit dirt then backfill with your clean gravel.

  • 1
    There are magic vacuums for this, but think the cost is quite high.
    – crip659
    Jun 6, 2022 at 18:36
  • 1
    You can vacuum it out with a non-magic shop vac, but you have to stop and dump it often or it gets too heavy to lift.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 6, 2022 at 18:43
  • @crip659 Please feel free to make a magic vacuum answer =)
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 6, 2022 at 18:51
  • 1

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