Spring is the season Eastview Homes most often gets called to come out and deal with home renovations resulting from flood damage. Occasionally the homeowners call when their properties are still underwater and sometimes the weather isn’t the most obvious explanation for the flood. Property owners call us looking for answers, and good advice; this post is a handy reference list for what you should do if your home basement mysteriously floods.
Safety should always be your number one priority if you experience flooding
- Keep family and pets away from the flooded area.
- Call 311 or your city’s water services department right away – they’ll try to determine the cause of the flooding and provide suggestions.
- Avoid using water in your home until you understand what’s causing the flooding – water from your sinks, toilets, bathtub or dishwasher and other appliances could exacerbate the problem.
- Consider shutting off the electrical power if it’s safe to do so and, if you use gas and smell it, leave the building right away and contact your gas company.
- Call your home insurance company to report possible property damage and follow their instructions, including taking photos, and holding onto receipts for any emergency repairs or clean-up you may have to pay for despite it being a neighbour’s or even a supplier’s negligence – the paperwork is critical to getting proper settlements months or years later.
Water damage is pervasive and even though only six inches covered the basement, almost everything had to be replaced.
Eight precautions you can take to avoid or reduce basement flooding
Although basement waterproofing is an art and science practiced by civil engineers and well paid contractors with highly specialized equipment, there’s plenty you can do yourself around the house to minimize the chances of being deluged each spring.
- Seal all cracks or openings in and around your basement walls, floors and window wells.
- Clear leaves, nests and muck from blocking eaves troughs and downspouts so rain water can properly drain.
- Determine if the landscaping around your home slopes away from the foundation wall so that water drains away from it.
- Avoid clogging toilets, sinks or bathtubs with items that don’t belong down the drain, including: cooking grease, coffee grounds, bones, egg shells, food, gum, paper towels, baby wipes, feminine products, cotton swabs, cat litter, cosmetics, paint, car fluids or bleach.
- Make sure your plumbing and drainage throughout your property and in your home are in good working order – this may involve contacting a qualified plumber to help you understand how your plumbing and drainage systems work and offer solutions to make flooding less likely.
- Install a backwater valve – this is a device that prevents sewage in an overloaded main sewer line from backing up into your basement. Check if your municipality offers rebates for this precautionary measure as part of their flood protection programs. If you have a backwater valve, have it inspected regularly to make sure it’s still working.
- Inspect laundry hose bibs – if you have old rubber hoses that connect the water to your washing machine, there’s a chance they could burst. Check for bulges. It’s best to upgrade to more durable braided water supply lines.
- Get a dehumidifier for the basement – especially for humid summer months – this won’t prevent flooding but it will keep your basement drier.
Do you need a sump pump?
Even without a catastrophic flood in your basement, water and moisture may still be slowly seeping in from outside, particularly if you’re in an area with a lot of snow or rain. Besides the obvious damage and inconvenience water can cause to your investment, continual moisture in your basement can result in mold and, with it, potential health problems for you and your family. The photo on the right is an Eco Flo submersible sump pump that is only sold online at Home Depo and costs $129.
An electric sump pump housed below the floor of your basement can automatically pump out rising water and drain it away from the foundation to help keep your basement dry.
If you have a sump pump, it’s a good idea to check it periodically to make sure it’s in good working order – monthly if it disposes of water from a washing machine, and once a season otherwise. In both cases, the pump screen or inlet opening should be cleaned.
Once a year, call a professional to inspect the systems
- Alarm: If your pump has one, it should be tested.
- Check valve: This can help prevent water from flowing back after it’s pumped out.
- Backup power: The last thing you want during a flood-related power outage is for your pump to stop working – you should have a battery powered backup sump pump
- Pit: The hole the pump sits in needs to be deep and wide enough for the machinery to work properly.
- Discharge location: It’s recommended that the location where pumped water is discharged is at least 6 meters (20 feet) from other homes so water doesn’t drain into neighbouring properties.