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Basement Flood Prevention and Protection

Sources, Steps and Resources

One of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) principal mandates is to “reduce the risk to life and damage to property caused by flooding”. TRCA responds by providing the public with notices and information to be proactive in anticipation of severe rainfall events, floods and related emergencies. There are several factors contributing to the increase in flood risks, they include: escalating extreme rain events as well as winter melts associated with climate change, aging municipal infrastructure, loss of wetlands and natural infrastructure; trees, parks, and open fields and more hard surfaces found in urban environments. Overland flooding, storm/sanitary sewer backup, groundwater infiltration/seepage represent three major flood types categorized under the term urban flooding. The average cost of a flooded basement to the homeowner in an affected Canadian municipality is $43,000/insurance claim. Regular seasonal maintenance and a few practical and cost-effective steps can save thousands by taking control and addressing potential issues before they become disastrous. Five main sources of flooding are attributed to:

1. Plumbing and fixture damage.

2. Sewer back-up.

3. Overland water.

4. Ground water.

5. Water & sewer lines.

Inside the home, basement leaks are attributed to the following main areas: mortar joints, waterpipes and conduit, sump pump, floor cracks, floor drain, floor & wall joint, form tile, sewer pipe, over top of foundation wall, wall cracks, window well, honeycomb and plugged drain tiles.

In fact, the leading cause of basement flooding is “no backup sump pump or backup power supply”. During heavy storms, the sump pit is at risk of overflowing, this is significant during a power outage. This underscores the importance of consistent seasonal maintenance of the sump pump. This applies to backwater valves as well, where the impending risk is seepage of sewage entering in from the city’s sewer lines. Simple actions can be taken to reduce risks and prevent damage to property and can be done for under $500. However, when a professional contractor’s expertise is required do not hesitate and always ask for a second and third opinion. The initial expenditure is worth it long term in protecting your return on investment. Before briefly touching on outdoor interventions, consider keeping floor drains clear, store valuables and hazardous materials in watertight containers, test the sump pump and install backup power. Lastly, install and maintain a backwater valve as well as a flood alarm and ensure plumbing fixtures and appliances are also well maintained.

Outside, habitually check the nearest storm drain and remove debris as a preventive measure. Inspect grading around the foundation. Ensure water flows at least 2 meters away from the foundation or toward a drainage swale. Otherwise, water will be directed into the basement via cracks in the foundation or damaged window seals. For additional protection, install window wells and covers and clean eaves troughs. Divert water more efficiently, by extending downspouts.

A collaborative initiative created by the University of Waterloo & Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation is the easy to navigate, confidential and informative resource Home Flood Protection Check-Up. Learn more about emergency preparedness, understand more about water damage insurance coverages, mold reduction strategies, flood protection subsidies and grants, as well as access additional flood prevention tips. More self-help materials for reducing flood risk inside and outside your home can also be found here.

The intention for this blog is to empower people to make informed real estate decisions and provide success strategies for self and home improvement. At Royal LePage Grange Hall Realty, we bring over 40 years of experience and a very successful, proven track record of performance. Always feel free to contact me directly 647-202-3263 to learn more about buying, selling, leasing, renting and investing in residential and commercial real estate. We offer free virtual home staging, painting, evaluations and more..


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