As the seasons change, you can expect the weather to be unpredictable. Protect your home with these precautions to minimize the risk of water damage this fall.
Is your home ready to weather a fall storm? Not just your everyday storm, but the type of storm that causes Environment Canada to issue a severe thunderstorm or weather warning? These storms, with their high winds and heavy rain, can cause considerable damage but there are precautions you can take today to minimize the chance you’ll find yourself ankle deep in water as we transition into a new season. Precautions which may help to ensure you don’t have to rely on your home insurance, if you’re covered, for help in drying out.
Tips to prevent water damage to your home before the rain comes
The following tips, gathered from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the Government of Canada and the University of Waterloo’s Flood Smart Canada project will help your home stay dry when storms hit:
- Do not pour fats, oils or grease down your drain because when you do, it sticks to the pipes and eventually will cause a blockage.
- Regularly clean your eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and debris to ensure the water drains off the roof freely.
- Disconnect your downspouts if they drain directly into your municipality’s storm system. Most municipalities require this nowadays as it overloads the storm system, increasing the odds of a sewer back-up into the home.
- Ensure that your downspouts extend at least 2 metres from your home’s foundation and that the water drains away from the house.
- The ground around your home’s foundation may settle over time. If water runs towards your house, rather than away from it, it’s time to address the grading of your lot to ensure there’s a slope away from the foundation. Pay particular attention to your sidewalk, patio, deck and driveway.
- Landscape your yard and gardens with plants and vegetation that will minimize soil erosion.
- Use a rain barrel to catch runoff.
- Repair foundation cracks when spotted and if the caulking around your home’s windows and doors is showing signs of age, it’s time to reseal them.
- Repair or replace your roof if shingles are deteriorating or missing.
- If doing a basement renovation, use water-resistant materials. A basement reno is also the ideal time to elevate and secure large appliances, like your furnace, hot water tank, and laundry so that they’re not sitting on the basement floor.
- Keep your basement floor drains clear of obstructions.
- 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.
- Install covers that protect basement window wells from accumulating water.
- Test your sump pump several times a year to ensure it is working, and if you don’t already have one, have a battery-powered back-up should there be a power outage.
- Put in a backwater valve (also called a backflow valve) to prevent a sewer back-up. This valve could be your last line of defence against an overwhelmed storm system that’s trying to flow water (often sewage) back into your basement.
- Keep storm drains near your home clear of leaves and debris.
- During heavy rainfalls, minimize your home water use.
When the water rises will you be covered?
According to an IBC survey last year, almost 45 percent of Canadians who have a ground-level home think they have flood insurance as part of their home insurance policy. The truth is, however, that in general there are only two types of weather-related flooding coverages available in Canada and they’re both optional:
- Overland flooding: This type of coverage has only been available to Canadians since 2015 and will provide financial relief from water damage that is the result of a body of water that overflows its normal boundaries. It may also provide protection from surface water that’s the result of a heavy rainfall, although coverage specifics will vary by insurer.
- Sewer back-up: This optional add-on to your home insurance policy will protect you from the costs of extensive damages and clean up if there is a sewer back-up into your home.
If you’re unsure of what type of coverage you have, give your insurance provider a call and have them explain how you’re covered when it comes to water damage. Also, ask them specifically what is excluded. For example, it’s unlikely water damage caused by a leak in your window well would be covered if the leak could have been avoided with regular maintenance and upkeep. These are the types of important things to know in advance, especially given the increasing frequency and severity of storms in Canada.
Don’t let extreme weather drive up your insurance costs
Although you can’t control the weather, you can shop your home insurance rate to see if you could be spending less on the coverage you need. At InsuranceHotline.com, you can compare home insurance quotes from 30+ providers in one simple step.
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