Basement floods are on the rise in the Ottawa area, causing thousands of dollars in damage for homeowners. But, don’t become a victim yourself. Instead, find out whether your home is vulnerable; read about the causes of a flooded basement and 6 ways that you can prevent future flooding.
Functional sump pumps are critical to protect against flooding. If you already have one, fantastic! Just have it serviced to make sure the pump is operating correctly and is ready to protect your home and belongings.
If you don’t (yet) own one, make sump pump installation a priority. The device will be located in your basement, together with a sump pit to hold water. When incoming groundwater due to heavy rainfall or melted snow causes the water level to rise excessively, the pump will be triggered to pump it out. The water will exit your basement via a drain pipe that empties outdoors, away from your foundation. A battery backup allows sump pumps to work even during power outages.
A backwater valve protects against sewer backup. Typically, wastewater flows in only one direction — from your home plumbing to the municipal sewer system. However, occasional sewer clogs and backups can create a truly disgusting mess in your home… unless you have a backwater valve installed. These effectively prevent water damage that a City of Ottawa bylaw requires backwater valve installation in new houses. The City also provides a rebate on backwater valve retrofit.
Here’s a common cause of flooded basement issues that is easily preventable: water heater leakage.
Check the condition of your water heater regularly. If you see or hear any red flags — like puddles on the floor, small leaks, rust, discoloured water, or strange noises coming from the hot water tank, call for water heater repair ASAP, before the heater starts leaking heavily… or even explodes!
When one of your home plumbing pipes gets damaged, it’s usually difficult to spot. Stay alert for the following signs:
Basement. A wet basement is always a problem, but large amounts of water pooling on your basement floor are a cause for serious concern. Call for emergency plumbing repair.
Yard. A patch of grass that is noticeably greener and lusher than the rest of your lawn may be the result of runoff from a leaking pipe into that part of your yard.
Mould. A musty, acrid smell anywhere in your home or visible mould on walls or ceilings means excess moisture is present. A damaged pipe that is causing a leak could be the culprit.
Drains. Another clue to possible pipe damage is drain problems. If you’ve tried plunging and augering slow-flowing drains without success, you might need your pipes inspected. The same goes for unused drains that are showing signs of moisture or foul odours from any drain.
Your gutters and downspouts are designed to collect rainwater or snowmelt flowing off the roof and safely channel them away from your foundation. To make sure they can do their job well, clean gutters 3-4 times a year, especially before the spring thaw. Also, ensure that downspouts are correctly angled so that they discharge water at least 3 metres from the foundation.
Untreated cracks will make your home’s foundation more vulnerable to water penetration from sources like groundwater, backed-up yard drains, runoff from blocked gutters, plumbing leaks, and the like. The good news is that it’s often fairly easy to fix foundation cracks — if you have them taken care of while they’re still small.
For all homes located in Ottawa’s flood plain, the risk of a basement flood is increased. Another potential problem is more individual: your house has a foundation below the local water table or is situated on a lot with poor drainage or grading.
Your roof gutters can become clogged by leaves, debris, and even nests built by small animals. Water may spill over the gutters (and from there onto exterior walls and foundations) rather than through the downspouts as it should. Inspect gutters regularly and clear any clogs promptly.
The sanitary lateral pipe from your home to the sewer system may become blocked due to clogging from paper, grease, or other objects, tree roots that have grown into the pipe, or collapse or damage to the pipe. The municipal sewer main might also clog, in this case, because of severe rainstorms or heavy spring runoff, blockage by waste products or debris, or structural defects.
Sump pumps need regular maintenance and testing to ensure that they are functioning properly and are ready to protect your home in an emergency. Recommended cleaning schedule (unplug the pump first!):
Out of This World will help you to protect against a major basement flood with proven effective methods. Contact us for plumbing inspection or a sump pump or backwater valve installation today.