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9 Best Practices To Prevent Basement Flooding

Are you ever away from home wondering if your sump pump is working? Imagine coming home to a flooded basement.

Basement flooding can cause significant damage to your property and could also create possible health impacts, including respiratory problems from dampness and mould growth.

You might think that since you live on top of a hill, or since you’ve never had any problems with basement flooding in the past that you are safe. This is not necessarily the case. Flooding have affected many people who were thought to have lived in areas where basement flooding could not occur.

Also, much of the sewer infrastructure in Canada is getting older, and climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events.

All things considered, it is important for any homeowner to learn how to protect their home from basement flooding.

Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction has compiled 9 best practices for basement flood reduction that require less time and money to implement:

  1. Hire a licensed plumber to conduct a detailed plumbing investigation on your home.

    If possible, hire contractors or plumbers who have been pre-approved and recommended by your municipal government.

  2. Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down your drains.

    Instead of rinsing grease down your kitchen drain, wipe it off with a paper towel and put it in with your food waste, or wait until the grease congeals and dispose of it with your food waste.

  3. Keep storm sewer grates clear.

    Here are a few things you can do:

    1) Wait until the day that your yard waste will be picked up before placing it on the curb. If you live in an older neighbourhood that is densely-treed, watch for blockages in storm sewer grates from fallen leaves, especially during the fall months.
    2) Put out your garbage on collection days only.
    3) If you notice that a sewer grate is clogged, clear it out or let your municipal government know about it.
    4) If a storm sewer grate is repeatedly blocked surface, inform your municipal government.

  4. Seal cracks in foundation walls and basement floor.

    In many cases, cracks can be effectively sealed from inside the basement, and you will not have to dig anywhere beside the foundation to repair them.

  5. Considerations for overland flood entry-points.

    Overland flood entry-pints may include gaps between the basement wall and the framing around windows and doors, gaps around electrical wiring, phone and television cables and gaps around pipes and other services that enter the basement. Cracks in brickwork can also provide entry-points for overland floodwater. These gaps should be identified and sealed.

  6. Reduce home water use during heavy rainfall events.

    Wait to do your laundry, run your dishwasher or use the bathroom until a few hours after a severe rainfall event.

  7. Ensure your eavestroughs and downspouts are not clogged with debris.

    Regularly clean and maintain your eavestroughs  and downspounts.

  8. Downspout disconnection, extensions and splash pads.

    Downspouts often direct water to the surface of the lot, but in many cases they may be connected to the weeping tile or the sanitary sewer lateral. When connected to the municipal sewer system, eavestrough downspouts can contribute a substantial amount of water to these systems. Because of the environmental impacts resulting from combined sewer overflows and the increase in flood risk connected eavestroughs cause, it is illegal to connect downspouts to municipal sewer systems in many Canadian communities.

    If your downspout leads to an underground pipe, you should contact the municipal government. They should be able to tell you if your downspout should be connected to the sewer system, or if it should be directed over your lot.

    When the downspout is disconnected from an underground pipe, the remaining exposed pipe leading underground should be capped to stop extra water from entering the sewer system. A 1.8 metre extension should be placed on the downspout to ensure that water is kept away from the home, and splash pads should be used help prevent erosion at the discharge point. Downspout water should be directed over a permeable surface, including lawns and gardens.

  9. Review your municipality’s website or talk to officials in your municipal government about basement flooding.

    In most cases, they will be able to point you toward useful information on flood problems in your community, and what homeowners can do to reduce flooding in their homes and neighbourhood.

For families with vacation homes or those who travel frequently, having a high water monitoring system in place would provide an additional layer of protection. A high water monitoring system will send an alert to you and the Central Monitoring Station as soon as a water level change is detected, so the problem can be stopped before the damage becomes devastating. Click here to learn more about high water monitoring system.

Source: Handbook for reducing Basement Flooding, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, 2009.

Do you have any other tips for basement flood prevention? We’d love to hear your thoughts…share with us below!

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