Homeowner Helpers: Preventing a flooded basement for $250

Homeowner HelpersPreventing a flooded basement could cost just $250 but save you from a $43,000 repair bill.

That’s according to the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, which has just published a comprehensive report on 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.

The report is timely. In the National Capital Region, there’s daily news coverage of homeowners building sandbag barriers in an attempt to keep the swollen Ottawa River and other waterways at bay during the spring melt. For some of these homeowners, it’s the second time since 2107 that they’ve been faced with this scenario, and we can expect more flooding as climate change and its intense rainfalls ramp up.

But you don’t have to live alongside a river 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 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 to prevent basement flooding:

  1. Remove debris from the nearest storm drain (check the City of Ottawa’s catch basin map to locate one near you).
  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 flood alarms, starting at under $15 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 an emergency battery backup automatic sump pump for $229).
  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 for the installation of protective plumbing devices like sump pumps and backwater valves; more information here).
  10. Repair or replace deteriorating pipes and appliances.

Got a maintenance task you’re not sure how to do?
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