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How to Prevent Basement Flooding

It’s no news flash that the rainy weather we experience can produce unexpected issues in your home. Basement flooding is not uncommon for many people in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent region, and having to clean up your basement after heavy rain can be a frustrating, dangerous, and expensive ordeal.  Just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage.

But, with a bit of planning and some regular maintenance, you can protect your property and prevent a flooded basement.

There are a number of reasons why basements flood, including:

  • Improper sealing on basement flooring and walls
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts
  • Hot water tank failure
  • Sump pump failure
  • Waterline break
  • Sewer backup

Protect your basement before flooding occurs

It may seem like a hassle now, but it’s important to invest in ways to protect your home. Finished basements used as a living space that can be damaged during a flood make for an even greater loss. Furthermore, floods may have long-term health impacts on your family due to mold growth. Here are some quick tips on how to reduce the risk of basement flooding:

Never pour fats, oils and grease down your drains

When you rinse fats, oils and grease down your sink, there is a chance that the oils will begin to solidify. As they cool and harden, they can stick to the sides of the pipes. Eventually, these clogs can grow to the point that they restrict the water flow or block it altogether. There is the very real possibility that these clogs can form in the neighbourhood or city sewer line, causing a major sewer backup.

Keep the storm sewer grates on your street clear of yard waste, leaves, garbage, ice and snow. When storm sewer grates are clogged with debris, less water will be able to enter the sewer system. When this happens, there is an increased chance that it will flow onto private properties and then into homes and basements.

Clean and maintain your gutters and downspouts at least once a year Gutters are designed to collect rainwater from the roof and carry it away from the foundation of the home through downspouts. Since both the gutters and downspouts need to be clear in order to carry out this task, having clogged gutters can cause an overflow of water.

Store anything expensive, valuable or irreplaceable upstairs. Basement flooding can lead to considerable damages to your home and the contents within. A good rule of thumb is to store valuable items upstairs, or to pack anything in your basement that can’t/shouldn’t get wet in water-tight containers.

Install a sump pump. A sump pump, if installed properly, collects all the excess water surrounding your house. It pumps water out and away from your foundation, helping to keep the area under your home dry. If your area’s water table – the level below which the ground is saturated with water – is above the foundation of your home, a sump pump is recommended.

Set up a flood alarm. Flood alarms are small devices installed near your baseboards. They monitor changes in moisture and will notify you if there is water wherever you’ve placed it. While they won’t help with flood prevention, they can reduce damage by catching flooding early and allowing you to manage it before it gets out of hand.

Regardless of whether it’s rain, ice, or snow, your basement should not be leaking and wet every time a weather event occurs.

Taking the right precautions now can save you from stressful times and financial burdens in the future.

A drastic (but effective) way to keep water out of the basement  

A foundation membrane could cost a homeowner $15,000, and it is probably not something you’re going to try installing yourself, but it is often the most effective method of waterproofing a basement.

A foundation membrane is a thick sheet of rubberized asphalt on waterproof polyethylene film that goes outside the foundation.

Other ways you might reduce basement flood risk include adding interior paint coatings, cutting drains into the floor, and re-grading the exterior landscape.

Causes of basement flooding include improper sealing on the flooring and walls, hot water tank failure, sump pump failure, water supply line failure, sewer backup, or a clogged gutter system. Some homeowners do not understand how gutters keep the basement dry.

Without gutters, the massive amount of rain that a roof can collect in a rainstorm will drip down the shingles and land no more than a foot from the foundation walls — a perfect recipe for a wet basement. Ensuring that your gutters are pitched correctly and free from clogs and debris is essential, or else water will back up over the brim of the gutter and drop in front of the foundation.

To stop water from penetrating basement walls, the homeowner can repair either the outside or inside of the foundation.

If the foundation is in rough shape, no amount of waterproofing will work, and the structure can actually be unsafe. In that case, you’ll need to have the walls repaired before you can move forward. The foundation repair cost will be extra, depending on how extensive the repairs are. But these repairs are crucial to ensure a waterproof foundation.”

Homeowners should also ensure downspouts send water at least eight feet away from the foundation.


Sources: Canadian Underwriter & Insurance Jack


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