Homeowner Helpers: Preventing a flooded basement at little cost

Homeowner Helpers

Preventing a flooded basement could cost just $269 but save you from a $40,000-plus repair bill.

Everything from more intense rain storms to aging infrastructure and a simple lack of flood protection in homes is driving up the risk and extent of flood damage in Canada, according to a report from University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation.


The average flooded basement in Canada costs more than $40,000 to fix, 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 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 Intact Centre’s top 10 tips to prevent basement flooding:

  1. Remove debris from the nearest storm drain. Catch basins can easily be located on the City of Ottawa’s basin map.
  2. Correct grading around your foundation so water flows away from your home.
  3. 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).
  4. Install window well covers to direct rain away from the foundation.
  5. Install and maintain sump pump and flood alarms, available for less than $25 at building materials stores.
  6. Keep floor drains clear.
  7. If you keep valuables in the basement, store them in watertight containers.
  8. Test the sump pump (if you have one) and install backup power (Home Depot sells emergency battery backup automatic sump pumps starting at $269).
  9. 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 to qualified property owners for the installation of protective plumbing devices like sump pumps and backwater valves; more information here).
  10. Repair or replace deteriorating pipes and appliances.

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Originally published April 23, 2019.



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