1. Clean out your gutters and downspouts, and ensure downspouts on the ground extend 6 feet away from the house foundation. Check any underground pipe connections for debris making sure they are not plugged. If in doubt, disconnect and run above ground away from the house.

Example diagram of a downspout extension and drainage

Basics of downspout extension

Example photo of downspouts that need to be extended

These downspouts need to be extended

2. Ensure water from downspouts drains away from the house foundation towards the street or drainage catch basin. Clear any snow or ice or debris so it drains with the help of gravity.

3. Ensure the ground slopes away from the house like a pitcher’s mound to keep water away from the foundation

Example diagram of drainage swales to move water away from your home's foundation

Direct water away from the house using swales.

4. If you have a sump pump in the basement you should be familiar with it so check to make sure it is working and that the discharge pipe outside extends away from house just like downspouts.

Diagram of a typical sump pump set-up showing outside drainage

Typical sump pump set-up, notice the drainage pipe is discharging away from the foundation. (Carson-Dunlop)

5. Check the road drainage by making sure any catch basin on the road is clear of debris like branches, grass, twigs, garbage, etc.

Catch basin covered in leaves and branches

Catch basin covered in debris

6. If you have basement window wells clear the stone inside the well of any debris, like the catch basins mentioned above, so they can drain as they were designed.  If you have covers over them make sure they are in place and secured from wind damage.

Diagram of the construction of a window well

Window Wells are designed to drain.

These are the basic things to consider to keep water draining away from your home and out of your basement.  If you are not sure, you should consult a professional home inspector for specific advice for your home.  You should always follow any local municipal bylaws regarding surface drainage specific to your community.  As a general rule, no surface drainage should be directed from your property to a neighboring property.