Thursday, August 31, 2017

Basement Flooding 101

In our area of Windsor, Ontario, we had some very heavy rains this week. Although nothing comparable to some of the devastation in the Houston, Texas area, many people suffered substantial damage from basement flooding. The condo building I live in had 2.5 feet of water in the parking garage ☹. We thought this friendly reminder on basement flooding tips would be timely.

Follow any directives to turn off utilities. If you’re advised to switch off the main power source to your home, flip each breaker and then turn off the main breaker. You may also need to shut off the main valve for your home’s gas and water.

  1. Be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize standing water. Keep the power off and do not enter a flooded area until it has been determined to be safe to do so by a professional.
  2. Have an electrician inspect electrical appliances that have been wet. Do not turn on or plug in appliances unless and electrician tells you it's safe.
  3. If the flooding is due to a sewage backup (or you are not sure), do not flush the toilet, run a washing machine, dishwasher or any other feature with a drain since this will likely increase the flooding.
  4. Report the issue to the municipality. Documentation of flood locations helps municipal staff determine if any work is required on municipal infrastructure.
  5. During clean up, provide as much ventilation as you can. Open windows if weather permits and use fans to dry things out.
  6. Call your insurance company immediately. They will advise you on standard clean up procedures, contractors to call and claim information.
  7. Make sure you take lots of pictures and document items that have been damaged or need to be replaced. Before you head out and start buying new stuff, make sure you are familiar with the coverage you have with your insurer. Keep any and all receipts for emergency work done, purchases, and/or repairs.
  8. Insurance companies look favourably on homeowners wanting to undertake work on their own to reduce the likelihood of future flooding. Repeat claims with no efforts to reduce future risk may be sufficient for an insurance company to drop that form of coverage in the future.
  9. Take preventative measures in the future to make sure the water stays away from your basement as much as possible. These include: making sure downspouts are extended and flow away from the foundation, gutters are clean and flowing, grading isn’t low in any areas and if it is having it filled it to flow away from the house, and having the sewer lines checked annually to make sure they are flowing and not backed up and possibly having them eeled out if need be.
  10. If the preventative measures don’t work at keeping the water away, you may need to look at additional upgrades including: adding in a sump or multiple sumps with battery back ups, a back flow (check flow valve) to stop the sewer back up, doing the weeping tile along the perimeter of the basement, and digging up the exterior of the house to add a waterproof membrane.
Sometimes when we get a huge rain storm in a short period of time, there isn’t much you as a homeowner can do. Knowing some of these tips can help keep you safe next time and hopefully minimize the damage. Stay dry out there!

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