Heavy Rainfall Warning! Tips to Protect Your Home

Toronto and much of Ontario are under a heavy rainfall warning for today. This may lead to potential water damage in your home. And consequently, your home insurance rate may increase in the event you have to file a claim for damages sustained.

According to the City of Toronto’s website,

"Every home is at risk of basement flooding, even if there has never been a flooding incident. Water in your basement is most likely to occur when there's been a heavy rainfall, snow is melting or we're experiencing a spring thaw."

You might be able to prevent or at least reduce the chance of damage to your home with these tips provided by the City of Toronto.

What causes basement flooding on private property?

  • A crack or leak in your home's foundation, basement walls, or basement windows or door.
  • Poor lot grading or drainage.
  • Failure of the weeping tile system (foundation drains).
  • Overflowing eaves troughs.
  • Leaking or plugged downspouts.
  • A blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street.
  • A back-up of wastewater in the sewer system (or a combination of wastewater and rainwater from the sanitary or combined sewer system).
  • Failure of a sump pump (in some homes) used to pump weeping tile water.

What you can do outside the house

  • Seal cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations, and seal all window wells.
  • Clear eaves troughs and downspouts of leaves and other debris that prevent proper drainage.
  • Disconnect your downspouts from the sewer system, where  feasible.
  • Make sure your disconnected downspouts are draining properly, ideally two metres (six and a half feet) from your foundation's walls.
  • Ensure the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation wall to help drain water away from your home (without negatively affecting neighbouring properties).
  • Increase the green space around your home with native plants and shrubs and install porous pavement to help absorb rainwater and melted snow.
  • Repair/replace damaged weeping tile systems.
  • Clear debris from roadside catchbasins (grates) to help water enter the storm sewer. (If it is safe to do so.)
  • Ensure drainage swales (shallow ditch) between properties are maintained and clear of obstructions.

What you can do inside the house

  • Ensure that your plumbing is in good working condition. Homeowners are responsible for the plumbing from the property line to inside the home. The City is responsible for the public portion of the service line.
  • Hire a City-licensed and qualified plumber to install a backwater valve and a properly-sized sump pump and piping. Ensure the proper and regular maintenance of basement flooding devices in your home. Sump pumps need power to operate, so consider installing a back-up power source.
  • Consider installing shelves to help keep items off the floor in your basement. Also, avoid keeping valuables or important documents in the basement. If you do, keep them in a watertight/water-resistant container.
  • Avoid carpet in the basement, which retains water and is harder to clean up.
  • Dispose of small amounts of cooking oil and grease in your green bin, not down the drain, which can cause a drain blockage. (Make sure there is absorbent material in the bin).
  • Avoid flushing objects down the toilet, such as dental floss, condoms, tampons, razor blades, non-biodegradable products, etc., which can block the sanitary pipe.

Home Insurance and water damage

Not all home, condo or renters insurance policies provide coverage for a sewer that may back up or other types of water damage. If your policy doesn’t include this, you may be able to purchase it from your insurance company.  Check out this list of other things that may not be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Review your home insurance coverage to ensure you know what is covered or speak with your insurance professional before water damage occurs to make sure that you are protected.