20 Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding and Water Damage

A plumber standing at the door

Learn how to protect your home in advance of heavy rainfall, melting snow or a rapid spring thaw.

Did you know that water damage claims have surpassed fire claims as the number one cause of home insurance losses in much of the country?

Water damage is increasingly common, and it is one of the reasons why home insurance rates are what they are today. Weather can be crazy and unpredictable, but you can take precautions now to minimize the chance your home will sustain water damage from flooding.

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Tips to minimize water damage from a flood: Outside the home

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has several consumer brochures to help homeowners avoid or minimize flood damage. The following is a compilation of some of those tips:

  1. Ensure your lot is properly graded so that water can drain away from your basement walls.
  2. Repair, where possible, sidewalks, patios, decks and driveways that may have shifted over the years, allowing water to pool close to the home.
  3. Landscape your yard and gardens with plants and vegetation that will minimize soil erosion.
  4. In the winter, clear snow away from the home’s foundation.
  5. Consider getting window well covers so that water does not accumulate.
  6. Make sure your downspouts extend three to six feet and drain in a direction away from your home as well as your neighbour’s.
  7. Use a rain barrel to catch runoff.
  8. Regularly clean and maintain your eavestroughs and gutters so that they are not blocked.
  9. Keep storm drains near your home clear of leaves and debris.
  10. Repair or replace your roof if shingles are deteriorating or missing.
  11. Hire a licensed plumber to ensure that the weeping tile (also known as a foundation drain) is in good working order.

Tips to minimize water damage from a flood: Inside the home

There are also a few precautions you can take inside the home to decrease the chance of water damage.

  1. While your plumber is checking the weeping tile, have them look at the sump-pit and sump pump too (if you have them) to ensure they are working correctly and not blocked.
  2. Ask your plumber about installing a backwater valve. A backwater valve is a device that stops water and sewage from coming back into the house during times of heavy rainfall. A backwater valve should be maintained annually.
  3. Consider investing in water leak sensors and alarms that alert you to possible leaks in the home; some of the more sophisticated models will even turn off the water coming into the house if a problem is detected.
  4. Keep your floor drains clear of obstructions.
  5. Seal cracks around windows and in the basement foundation and floors.
  6. Protect your HVAC system; if possible, have a professional elevate the furnace and hot water tank so that it is not sitting on the basement floor.
  7. Consider installing shelves in the basement to keep items off the floor. Also, avoid keeping valuables and important documents in the basement; store them upstairs where they are less likely to be damaged.
  8. Do not pour fats, oils and grease down your drains; they may solidify and contribute to a clogged pipe—the last thing you need when your system is under distress from a storm!
  9. During heavy rainfalls, minimize your home water use.

How has the weather affected your home insurance?

Canada’s increasingly weird weather may be impacting your home insurance premiums. But, while you cannot control the weather, you can shop your home insurance rate to see if you could be spending less for the coverage you need.