Preventing a flooded basement could cost just $250 but save you from a $43,000 repair bill.
That’s according to a 2019 report by the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation. The report examined the growing flood risks in Canada, a result of everything from more intense rain storms to aging infrastructure and a simple lack of flood protection in homes.
The average flooded basement in Canada cost $43,000 to fix in 2018, says the centre, and even if you are protected by insurance, you could still find yourself out of pocket in a flood, not to mention having to endure the upset of a ruined basement and everything it holds.
You don’t have to live alongside a river during a heavy spring snow melt to suffer a flooded basement, as the recent report makes clear. Something as simple as window wells that aren’t high enough above grade can result in a watery mess inside when those heavy rain storms occur outside.
Fortunately, along with potential disaster scenarios, the report lists simple things you can do right now for under $250 (the price may have risen slightly since 2019) to prevent a costly basement flood. It also contains other suggestions, some of which — including the installation of a backwater valve to protect against sewer backup — are more expensive but a worthwhile investment.
Here are the report’s top 10 tips for preventing a flooded basement:
- Remove debris from the nearest storm drain. Catch basins can easily be located by looking for a yellow T painted in the centre of the road, according to the city.
- Correct grading around your foundation so water flows away from your home.
- Clean your eavestroughs and extend the downspouts to at least two metres from your foundation (failing to maintain eavestroughs, downspouts and grading are among the top five maintenance-related flood risks).
- Install window well covers to direct rain away from the foundation.
- Install and maintain flood alarms, starting at about $15 at building materials stores.
- Keep floor drains clear.
- If you keep valuables in the basement, store them in watertight containers.
- Test the sump pump (if you have one) and install backup power (Home Depot sells an emergency battery backup automatic sump pump for $250).
- Maintain your backwater valve, which prevents sewer backups. If you don’t have a valve, get one installed (the City of Ottawa offers financial assistance for the installation of protective plumbing devices like sump pumps and backwater valves; more information here).
- Repair or replace deteriorating pipes and appliances.
Originally published April 23, 2019.