10 Tips To Help Prevent Basement Flooding

Prevent Basement Flooding Before It Happens

A dry basement is something that we can take for granted. We may not be near the ocean, but many of us are near lakes and rivers. We may not see many hurricanes, but we can still see heavy rainfall. We may not see permafrost, but it does snow. Any of these can lead to potential basement flooding. The cost of repairing a basement flood can cost you thousands of dollars and stress. That is why it is important that homeowners take every possible step to ensure to help prevent basement flooding. 

Tips To Help Prevent Basement Flooding

While you can't control water, there are steps you can take beyond obvious things like 'keep your basement window closed' and 'turn the sink off when you're not using it' that can help you prevent basement flooding. While building an entire dam is certainly overkill, there are much smaller, simpler, cheaper, and more aesthetic actions you can take. One of the easiest ways to avoid financial hardship is by getting additional coverage on your home insurance, such as overland water coverage. While no single action you take will make you immune, each of these recommendations is a small step you can take in preventing basement flooding.

1. Repair Cracks In The Foundation

A great home is built on a good foundation. Structural damage to the foundation walls will allow water above the basement to seep inside, especially if there is lots of groundwater or, even worse, sewer water above the basement. Water generally goes where gravity will take it. If gravity takes excess water toward your basement, your basement is going to become a lot less livable for humans and a lot more livable for fish very quickly. 

You may not be able to control groundwater or gravity, but you can repair foundation cracks which stops storm water from seeping through your basement floor to prevent basement flooding. While a particularly handy individual would likely be able to do this themselves, most people will need to call in a professional to do all but the most simple repairs. The cost of calling a repair service is far lower than the cost of repairing water damage.

2. Have A Sump Pump Ready

In this day of increasingly impressive technology, it seems like there's a machine for everything. There is a machine that can help prevent basement flooding: the sump pump. A sump pump, whether it be a submersible pump or a pedestal one, collects rainwater in its sump pit near your home's foundation and moves it away from your home through a pipe. Sump pumps lower the amount of water that can enter your home, acting as an additional line of defence. It is also recommended that you have a battery backup sump pump so that you can still get this benefit during power failures.

Remember that properly installing a sump pump is key, and it's best to have a qualified contractor install it for you.

3. Clean And Maintain Spouts And Eavestroughs

These are drainage systems that are designed to ensure proper drainage from the roof and take it away from your home, pointed away from your foundation. While this plays an obvious role in preventing leaks in your roof, its role in preventing basement flooding is much more subtle. However, a clogged gutter, eavestrough or spout can often lead to said pipe cracking, leaking or even breaking. This damage can lead to water falling right near your foundation, so stopping this can help prevent basement flooding. 

The most common cause of clogs and damage in your spouts and eavestroughs include leaves falling in autumn, although there are many other ways gunk can build up over time. It is recommended that you clean these out a couple of times each year to keep them running properly. 

4. Fix Cracks And Leaks

Your foundation isn't the only place where leaks can occur. There are points where the cracks are in the sides of the home or above ground. There are other points where the crack started on the inside of the basement wall itself before reaching the foundation. Sealing these up, whether done on your own or having a pro do it, is an important step to prevent basement flooding.

5. Maintain Your Plumbing

While there's no need to go through all the trouble of becoming a plumber yourself, there are some basic things that homeowners can do to their drains.

Small leaks in the pipes under a sink in the basement can be a red flag that something is amiss. A leaky faucet or a troubled toilet can also let you know that you have drainage issues. Sometimes, these can lead to false positives. All you need to do is get some Drano to clear an isolated blockage. Other times, there's a deeper problem, and the first signs of it are more subtle. In the case of problems with your plumbing, a series of issues will likely mean that a larger problem is about to occur. Maybe there's a bunch of corrosion in a pipe. Maybe if the temperature is starting to go down, and you’re struggling to prevent your pipe from freezing. Maybe after decades upon decades of use, your pipes are on their last legs. A major pipe burst in your basement can cause major flooding. If you're not home when the pipe bursts, things could get out of hand very fast.

If you notice that there are a number of problems starting to pop up around your home, or if you need emergency repairs, it might be best to call a plumber and have them fix your problem to help prevent basement flooding. 

6. Ensure That Sewers Are Not Clogged

A clog in your sewer system can be a real pain, as it can often prevent water in your pipes from leaving your property. Taking steps to prevent this is a forward-thinking way to prevent basement flooding.  

There are a few tips out there for keeping your sewer drains clean. The first is to use enzyme-based cleaners to clear them out. Although a lot of people use chemical-based cleaners to get the job done, enzyme ones are better for the drains.

Another tip is to avoid planting anything, especially trees, close to sewer drains. A nearby tree can not only make maintenance difficult but can also actively clog up the drain itself. The roots of a tree are constantly looking for nutrients, including water, and will do anything possible to get it. If the roots end up breaking through the sewage pipe, it hits an absolute jackpot in the water department, and having to deal with roots in plumbing pipes is far from easy. If there's already a nearby tree that could cause issues, you can install a root barrier as an extra line of defence. 

Other things that can help include installing drain screens as well as calling for a plumbing inspection once every year or two.

7. Avoid Flushing Certain Items Down The Drain Or Toilet

It might be tempting to place certain items down the drain, as it gets rid of them fast. However, a garbage, green bin, or, in some cases, a sealed container is often a better choice, as certain items can clog up your drain. Being careful about what gets into your pipes is an important step when you want to prevent basement flooding. Items that can block your sink or toilet drain include food and food waste, chemicals of any kind, animal droppings, cleaning wipes (even if they say flushable), and pharmaceutical and personal care items.

If you are unsure of if something should be flushed or put down the drain, it's best you play it safe and find another way to dispose of it in order to help prevent basement flooding.

8. Keep Your Washing Machine In Good Condition

Devices like a washing machine can be very handy, and you'll certainly miss them when they're gone. However, one drawback of these machines is that when they break, they can create a real mess. Like a pipe burst, this can lead to a lot of water filling up your basement really fast. 

Although you can't do anything to guarantee that your washing machine never breaks, there are things you can do to prevent basement flooding caused by your own devices.

To help maintain a washing machine, for example, you should see if there's a recommended type of detergent for your specific washing machine and use that type exclusively. Also, minimize the use of said detergent, and don't stuff it too full of clothes, as putting too much in it can damage it. It is also recommended that you place the machine at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) from the wall and leave the machine sometimes open to prevent mould and mildew, clean the machine when needed, and replace slightly damaged parts before they break completely.

9. Use Porous Pavement To Better Control Rainfall

Porous pavement, also known as permeable pavement, can help prevent flooding. Porous pavement contains invisibly small pockets for water to fall through in the case of a flood. This means that water will seep into the soil and into a layer of small rocks. This lowers runoff, which prevents that water from collecting in puddles above ground while also making nearby storm sewers and other water-gathering areas less likely to overflow, which can help prevent basement flooding. The lack of puddles also prevents the build-up of mosquitoes in summer and stops ice from forming in the middle of winter.  

10. Use A French Drain

A French drain was created by farmer Henry French and detailed in a book he wrote in the 1850's. He created it as a way to prevent flooding on farms, increasing the quality of crops. Even if you have no plants that you need to increase the quality of, you can still prevent basement flooding.

A French drain is relatively simple in concept, but it can be quite effective in lowering the risk of basement flooding on your property. It creates a new path of least resistance for water that takes it away from your home instead of towards your basement.

A French drain is made up of a drainage pipe in a trench with small holes at the top under some gravel. When there is a heavy rain storm, the water goes through the gravel and falls into the drain pipe. The drain pipe then takes the water away from your home, preventing basement flooding.  

Accidents Happen, Ensure You Are Properly Covered

Even though taking every single one of these precautions will minimize the risk of flooding to some extent, there's nothing you can do to ensure that you will always be able to keep your basement dry. Give our 5-star brokerage a call at 1-800-463-8074 or fill out the form below and ensure you are given the protection you deserve.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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