There are many posts on this site with good information about how to address water leaking into a basement (in my case, a small amount of water leaks into my bulkhead). I am not asking about how to fix those leaks (i.e. proper grading, drainage, etc), but rather: whether one has a leaky or generally very dry basement, is there any good way to know when a leak is occurring and act upon it immediately?

In my specific case, I have a bulkhead that gets a small amount of water in it during heavy rains. This water stays in the bulkhead because there is a poured cement ridge at the foot of the steps that effectively creates a basin in the bottom of the bulkhead. The ridge is ~3" tall, so if the water in the bulkhead were to become deeper than 3", it would flow over the ridge and begin seeping underneath the threshold of the door and into the actual basement.

In more than a decade of living here, this had not happened at all until last fall, when a blocked gutter above the bulkhead released a torrent of water that unfortunately landed in exactly the wrong spot on the bulkhead doors - enough water splashed through to entirely fill the bulkhead basin. Then, last week, a heavy rain and still-frozen ground caused enough leakage to fill the basin and have water enter the basement.

Bad luck both times, and there are certainly some things to be done to reduce the likelihood of those specific events happening again. But...my question is: what sort of system could I have that could handle this if it happens?

I don't think a sump pump is quite the solution - are there any that can sit in the bottom of a bulkhead and activate if, say, 2" of water accumulate?

There are water sensors that one can purchase, but they seem to send alerts if any water is detected, and it's not uncommon for my bulkhead to get a small amount of water in it.

What other ideas am I not thinking of?

  • "bulkhead"? do you mean "threshold"
    – Jasen
    Commented Mar 7 at 3:53
  • there exist float switches that will operate with 2" of water and pumps that that can work in shallow water too.
    – Jasen
    Commented Mar 7 at 3:56
  • @Jasen the area sealed by bulkhead doors, a.k.a. Bilco doors.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Mar 7 at 13:17

1 Answer 1

  • There are "floor sucker" and/or "roof-ponding" pumps that will activate on 3/8"-1/2" (9-12mm) water depth and suck to 1/16"-1/8" (1.5-3mm) depth available.
  • You could set a "wet floor alarm" device above the floor by the amount you want to ignore.
  • If the amount you want to ignore is several inches, a small float switch would also work.

You could also chop a sump hole into the floor of the bulkhead area (presumably the part under the stairs, so it's not in your way) and put a normal sump pump there. That might be more work than fixing the leaks, though.


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