How to protect your basement from flooding in Canada

Spring is finally here. That means more time outdoors, sitting on patios and enjoying the beautiful weather. But with the warmer season come more rainstorms, which have become increasingly hazardous for Canadian homeowners.

That is especially true for Canadians with basements. According to a recent study by Waterloo's Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, residential basement flooding is on the rise, with the average cost to repair a flooded basement reaching a jaw-dropping $43,000.

According to an even more recent press release from Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, approximately 1.5 million Canadian homes are in high-risk flood zones and don’t have insurance available to them.

But as catastrophic flooding has only somewhat recently become a major hazard in the country due to climate change, many homeowners who are eligible for flood insurance have yet to obtain it. Standard policies do not generally protect against basements soaked by overland floods or basement flooding caused by a backed-up sewer, but additional coverage is available for most homeowners.

Fortunately, there are household fixes you can do to mitigate your risk of flooding.

Outdoor maintenance

Inspect the outside walls of your home for any cracks, especially around your basement foundation. Use epoxy to fill any small cracks to prevent water from seeping into your basement during heavy rainfall. But if you’re seeing any major damage that needs to be fixed, it’s best to hire a professional.

Keeping your gutters and downspouts cleaned out year-round will also ensure water is draining off your roof and away from your home. Downspouts should exit at least three feet away from your foundation.

Landscape properly

Check to make sure that the flower beds and landscaping surrounding your home are graded properly. They should slope gradually away from your house, not towards it. If you have issues with water drainage around your home, you might consider installing a French drain that will draw water away from your house.

Use window well covers

If your basement windows are sunk down below ground level, cap them off with acrylic window well covers. These will go a long way towards helping to waterproof your basement.

Keep valuables off the floor

A finished basement can make the perfect hang out spot. Just be sure to use common sense when decorating or storing items. Use shelving to keep expensive or irreplaceable collectibles at least two feet from the floor, lest you risk permanently damaging your precious family photo albums after an unexpected downpour.

Take care of your pipes

A backed-up sewer is a nasty situation, but taking proper care of your drain lines can save you from dealing with it. Crucially, never pour grease or oils down the drain. In addition, avoid flushing paper towels or wet wipes down the toilet, and try not to use a lot of running water during heavy rains. It also doesn't hurt to have your sewer system or septic tank inspected by a pro on an annual basis.

Install a sump pump, and make sure it works

A working sump pump installed in your basement will suck out excess water and direct it away from your home. Having one installed is perhaps one of the best ways to prevent basement flooding. However, it won't help if it fails to switch on due to improper maintenance or lack of power. Be sure to test it periodically and keep the sump pump well clear of debris. Make sure you have a working battery backup or generator to provide power in case of an outage.

Get flood insurance

Whether you live in an area with a history of floods or not, the threat of overland flooding is an increasing concern.

Depending on your home insurance policy, there may be a cap on the amount your provider will pay out to cover the costs of repairing your basement. That’s why it’s vital to take proactive measures to protect your basement from flooding and mitigate potential damage.

Shop around and consider purchasing optional coverage to fully protect your basement in the event of a flood. You can compare home insurance quotes to find your best rate today.

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