Found at certain points around your home’s perimeter—usually, in the back or on the sides—window wells are one of your home’s unsung heroes. A bit drab, generally unnoticed, and frankly a little strange looking, they nonetheless serve several important functions to keep your home bright, safe, and dry. If you’ve ever wondered why your home needs window wells and why you should maintain and maybe even decorate them, here’s the inside scoop.
They Let the Sunshine In
If you have a basement, window wells are handy places for storage, keeping appliances such as furnaces and water heaters out of sight, and providing a rumpus room for the kids to hang out. Unfortunately, being below ground means basements can be dark and dreary places, even with a few lamps. Basement windows bring in the sun’s natural light, if only during the day, which can make the basement feel more like another comfy room in the house and less like a dungeon.
They Keep the Water, Soil, and Pests Out
To specify, the window well isn’t just the windows. It consists of the window, the hole dug in the ground below the house’s grade, and the wall (which can be made of plastic, metal, fiberglass, or concrete) installed around its sides. While the sunlight comes in through the window, the wall holds back the surrounding soil and any water that may want to seep through. Water is also drained away through the base of the well, running through the gravel or other stone placed there before being drained away. Pests are kept from entering your home as well through proper placement of the wall and a window well cover as well as sealing any cracks around the window and foundation.
They Let You Escape
Hypothetical situation: the house is on fire above you, and the door at the top of the stairs is blocked by the flames. You don’t have a door leading outside, and tunneling isn’t really an option, is it? Fortunately, you have a window well to escape through. Most homes with basements are required by building codes to have window wells for this very situation. Some may simply be a small window you can pop open and slip out of, while others may be larger and even equipped with a short ladder. Window wells also allow rescue personnel to enter the house to search for you and your family if necessary. Hopefully, it will never happen, but it’s better to be prepared.
How To Take Care of Them
Now that you know why your home needs window wells remember to look after them so they can continue to offer long-time service. Clear the well of leaves, twigs, refuse, and more and secure them with a clear cover (we offer several models) to keep precipitation, vermin, and intruders out. Decorations and plants are fine, but make sure you don’t block your means of escape in case of disaster.