Keep Your Home Safe From Flooding with These 11 Tips

A frozen, burst pipe in winter, melting snow and ice in a thaw and sudden heavy rain storms in summer pose huge danger to your home, in the form of a flooded basement. Water damage can be incredibly destructive to your home and cost tens of thousands of dollars to properly fix. The danger of flooding for Canadian homeowners is real, and increasing every year as climates change and seasons shift.

Despite the hot weather, insurance company Aviva Canada observes that summer is actually the worst time for flooding in homes, with a sharp increase in claims for basement flooding and damage coming in the summer months.

With the average cost of renovating a basement in Canada coming in at anywhere between $30-$60 per square foot, it could cost anywhere from $30,000-$60,000 to fix a 1,000 square foot basement that suffers flood damage. Depending on the cause of the flooding, your home insurance may not even cover this cost, leaving you to foot the bill.

With that high cost in mind, it is very important for homeowners to try and minimise their risk of flood damage. Here’s a few tips from Aviva Canada on the things you need to keep on top of to help keep your home and investment safe.

  1. Roof – Check the condition of your roof. Even small leaks can be a sign of much bigger problems. Excessive icicles in winter could mean poor ventilation or heat escape in the attic that can lead to ice damming and leaks.
  2. Prevent pipes freezing – Be sure to maintain adequate levels of heat in your home to keep pipes from freezing – and have someone check your home regularly if you are away. Make sure pipes are properly insulated.
  3. Eaves, gutters and windows – Keep eaves troughs, downspouts and basement window wells clear of debris. Ensure that below-grade window wells have a drain – and seal window wells, cracks in floors, walls and your home’s foundation.
  4. Alarms and sensors – Consider installing a water sensor and alarm that can detect a water leak, or a smart home monitoring system that lets you monitor key conditions in your home like a sump pump failure from an app on your phone.
  5. Downspouts – Downspouts should be directed at least 1.5 metres away from your home’s foundation, and onto a surface that is graded away from your house.
  6. Sump pump – Ensure the sump pump (a pump that removes water that has accumulated in a sump basin, usually in the basement) is connected to the storm sewer system or empties outside onto the lawn at least 1.5 metres from the foundation wall. Consider replacing your mains-only sump pump with a dual mains powered and battery backup version. This will save your basement if a storm knocks out power. Test that everything is working every few months.
  7. Sewer backup protection – Have a mainline “normally open” backwater valve professionally installed. This plumbing device allows the flow of waste in one direction only – from your property towards the sewer line, but not in reverse.
  8. Storage – Just in case of disaster, do not keep valuables or important documents in the basement – or, if you do, protect them in watertight or water-resistant containers.
  9. Outside drainage – ensure any surfaces such as pathways or lawn are graded away from your house so water drains away from your foundation. The less water that drains into your weeping tile, the less work your sump pump has to do.
  10. Insurance – Make sure your home insurance fully covers flood damage caused by things like sump pump failure, sewer backup or burst pipe. You may even be able to apply for a discount on your coverage if your home has flood prevention devices such as a sewer backwater valve, flood alarms or battery back up sump pump.
  11. Check for subsidies and grants – available from your city or province – Toronto offers a basement flooding subsidy of up to $3,400 per property for the installation of flood protection devices like sump pumps or backwater valves.

Our weather is constantly surprising us and in Toronto we have seen some extremely violent storms in recent years. Even the most prepared home owner cannot prevent a flood 100% so it pays to be prepared with the right insurance in place so if the worst does happen, you’re fully covered.

Click here to visit Aviva Water Protection and learn more about their new water damage coverage options.