How to measure your basement’s risk of flooding

Prevent basement flooding in your home

As climate change creates more severe weather events, many of which result in water damage to Canadians’ homes, some houses are more at risk of flooding than others. According to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction , these ten factors — among others — can increase your basement’s risk of flooding:

  • Your basement has flooded before. If your home has flooded before and you haven’t found or addressed the cause, you’re more likely to experience water damage again.
  • You pour fats, cooking oils, and grease down the sink. Throwing grease, cooking oils, and other clog-causing materials like bacon fat, coffee grinds, and food waste can cause a sewer backup, which can lead to water damage.
  • The sewer grates in front of your home are blocked by debris. If your storm sewer grate is blocked by yard waste, leaves, garbage, ice, or snow, excess water will have nowhere to escape.
  • You haven’t cleaned your eaves and downspouts recently. Your home’s gutters and downspouts direct rainwater away from your roofline and protect your home’s roof, walls, and foundation from water damage. If leaves and other debris are allowed to collect, they can create clogs that could lead to water damage.
  • There are unsealed cracks in your home’s foundation or the basement floor. Over time, cracks in your home’s foundation and your basement floor can develop as your home settles into the ground, allowing water to find its way into your home.
  • The soil beside your home isn’t 10 to 15cm higher than the soil 1.5 metres away from your home. The soil directly beside your foundation wall should be approximately 10 cm to 15 cm higher than the soil 1.5 metres away from the foundation, so that your yard slopes away from your home and water doesn’t have anywhere to accumulate.
  • You don’t have a backwater valve. A backwater valve stops sewage and water from flowing into your basement if the main sewer system becomes overwhelmed and begins to back up.
  • You don’t have a sump-pump. A sump pump picks up water from your basement and pumps it safely away from your home’s foundation. Sump pumps are especially helpful in rural areas and regions prone to flooding, where rainwater and melting snow can’t easily drain into a municipal sewer system.
  • Your basement windows are close to the ground. If your basement windows are close to the surface of the ground, water could enter through them. Installing a window well can help — the bottom of the well should be 15cm below the bottom of the window with a mixture of gravel and sand to allow drainage.

Most standard home insurance policies don’t automatically cover damage caused by water that enters your home from sources such as a heavy rainfall, a sewer backup, or a sump pump failure. To make sure you’re covered in the event of water damage in your basement, talk to your group’s licensed insurance broker today.

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