Spring is almost here. While many will welcome warmer temperatures, the season also has water levels rise due to increased rainfall and combined with meltwater as things thaw out. Rising water levels from flash floods can lead to severe water issues, including sewer backup and property damage. Sewer backup is a type of water intrusion that occurs when water gets into a home through its lower levels via plumbing fixtures, including floor drains, basement toilets, sinks and showers. It’s typically caused when a neighbourhood’s sewer line gets blocked and can be a real issue for homeowners who are unprepared.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Canadian insurance claims for basement water damage are estimated at $2 billion each year, so it’s important to prepare your home and family to reduce your risk.
To help, here are some tips to reduce the risk of water damage to your home this spring.
How Can You Reduce the Likelihood of Water Damage
There are steps you can take before spring arrives that can help unwanted water out of your home.
Help Redirect Water Away from Your Home
Investigate your personal property options around lot grading and back filling to help redirect water away from your home and foundation. We also provide tips on how landscaping can help prevent flooding.
Insulate Your Home Against Water
Installing window wells and covers can improve drainage around basement windows and help prevent water from entering. Seal cracks in foundation walls and basement floors to reduce the chance of infiltration flooding. Disconnect downspouts that lead directly to the municipal sewer system and extend them away from your home (ensuring you don’t direct water toward neighbouring properties!). If your home is prone to water intrusion, consider installing weeping tiles, a drainage system, or a backwater valve to help keep your basement dry.
Clear Away Debris Found Around Your Property
Before things really start melting, give the property surrounding your home a once over. This includes making sure debris (leaves, garbage and snow) aren’t blocking any sewer grates or catch basins near your property and clearing them if needed, as well as making a path for water to the grate. While you’re at it, take some time to clear any remaining snow away from your home’s foundation.
Store Important Items Away From the Floor
If possible, store items on shelves rather than directly on the basement floor. To keep important documents safe, store them in water-tight plastic containers.
Invest in A Sump Pump.
If your basement is prone to flooding, consider investing in a sump pump. A sump pump is used to remove excess water that accumulates in a basin which are typically found in a basement. Sump pumps are used where basement flooding happens regularly, can send water away from the house and into a storm drain or a dry well.
Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan and Kit
Prepare an emergency preparedness plan and kit in case water levels get so high you have to evacuate. The kit should have a three-day supply of food, water and other essential items.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Review your home insurance policy and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you and your home have the sewer backup coverage you need. Many home insurance policies may have the option to add an endorsement (or “add-on”) to help protect against water damage. Review what type of water damage is covered by homeowner’s insurance.
What To Do If Water Has Entered Your Home
Monitor The Lower Levels of Your Home For Water Intrusion
During heavy rain or flood conditions, check the lower levels of your home for water. If water is starting to get into your home, shut off the electricity. If possible, block sewers in the basement to avoid basement flooding. Move to higher ground of your home and (if possible) use your cell phone to listen for the latest emergency information.
Stay informed of Any Updates
If you are told to leave your home, grab your emergency preparedness kit and go to your designated shelter. Be sure to follow the recommended evacuation routes and never take shortcuts.
Keep Out of Any Standing Water
Hazards from floating debris, sewer contamination, live electrical wires and slippery surfaces can make wading in flood waters extremely dangerous.
Get to the Highest Elevation Point Outside
Climb to high ground in a highly visible and safe area. Never cross floodwaters because water as shallow as 15 centimetres could sweep you off your feet.
Head for Elevated Ground if You’re Inside Your Car
If you come to a flooded area, turn around, head for elevated ground and park there. If your car becomes stuck in floodwater, don’t remain in your vehicle because as little as 60 centimetres of water can carry a car away.
What to do After the Flooding Has Stopped
Follow the Direction of Your Local Emergency Authorities
Head home only when emergency authorities have advised it is safe to do so.
Keep the Power Off
Do not turn on the power in your home after significant water damage. Ask your hydro company for assistance.
Record the Damages
If possible, record details of any damage before you clean up. Take photos or video to help with your property damage claim.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve assessed the damage as best you can, contact your insurance company to start the claims process
For more information on how you can protect your home from severe weather, be sure to check out our other articles found on the Good Hands Advice Blog.
Disclaimer: This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.