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How to Reduce Your Risk of a Basement Flood

Flooded basements can happen to the best of us – even if you live in a new house. We tend to think of a basement flood occurring during rain storms or sudden thaws, but a basement can flood even when it’s dry outside, thanks to broken hot-water tanks, house pipes, groundwater, and burst or backed-up sewer pipes.

There are a couple of lifestyle changes you can make that will reduce the chance of flooding in your basement.

One is obvious: Don’t pour fats, oils or grease down your drain. When they cool and harden, they can cause major damage. Another is something you might not have thought of: Reduce your water usage during heavy rains. It might seem like an ideal time to throw in a load of laundry or wash your floors, but the sewer system is overtaxed enough.

There are simple and inexpensive steps you can take to reduce your flooding risk.

An Ontario-based utility company suggests:

Keep an eye on storm sewers

Keep any catch basins (storm sewage grates) near your property clear of debris. They need to be open for storm run-off. It may well be the responsibility of a public works department, but it can save you some heartache if you keep your eye on those nearest you.

Maintain your foundation

Seal any cracks in your foundation walls and floor. It’s vital to maintain your foundation, as water will find its way in through any opening. Many cracks can be fixed from the inside, with no need to dig outside around the foundation. How do you know? Check out these helpful tips from Mike Holmes.

Where else can water go?

Deal with any other place water can trickle through, too. Check around your windows and window wells, gaps beneath your doors, and any holes made to accommodate incoming electric or natural gas lines.

Maintain your eaves troughs and downspouts

Keep your eaves troughs and downspouts clear of debris. If they fill up, everything spills over and erodes your foundation, threatening your basement. Eaves troughs can also freeze, expand and break over the winter, permitting water to run right down your exterior walls and into … yes … your basement. If you’ve had or are concerned about flooding due to more significant problems, it is worth the expense to invest in lot-grading, swales (ditches), and backyard catch basins. It’s vital that you control groundwater around your foundation with drainage material, weeping tiles, and, where needed, sump pumps.

If you do experience a basement flood, what’s next?

It’s always a good idea to call your insurance agent. It’s their job to be there for you. The sooner you get in touch, the better. They might know of a company through their network; regardless, they are there to give you advice. If you’re one of our clients, visit our claims centre for all the information you need to start your claim.

Regardless of who you’re insured with, take photos, document the damage, and keep all of your receipts.

Stay dry this spring!