Water damage caused by basement flooding accounts for approximately $140 million a year in insurance claims, which is an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 incidents annually in Canada. Basement flooding doesn’t only end in costly repairs; it can also permanently damage your home or business and reduce the property value significantly.
Although it was years ago, the 2013 Alberta floods is still one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history. More recently, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reported that the Eastern Canada spring flood in 2019 caused close to $208 million in insured damage. Flooding in Canadian cities is becoming more and more common, and with spring weather on the horizon, it should be a concern for home and business owners alike.
What causes basement flooding?
Generally, there are two main causes of basement flooding: when storm water or ground water seeps into a property (drainage failure) or from a sewer backup.
Common reasons for drainage failure
- Poor floor or wall sealing: Improper sealing during the construction of your property can allow water to seep into your basement in the event of severe rainfall or snowfall.
- Cracks in your floor or walls: In older properties, a crack in the floor, wall or window of the basement is not uncommon and can allow water to easily make its way inside.
- Weeping tile failure: Most properties have a weeping tile system integrated into the foundation to help with underground water drainage. When this system fails, the chances of a flood occurring are quite high.
- Sump pump failure: A sump pump is a feature found in many basements that’s used to collect and remove rain or ground water that has accumulated in the basement of a property. Without a functioning sump pump, rain and ground water will continue to build up and can result in basement flooding.
- Blocked or broken eavestroughs: If your eavestroughs are not draining properly, most of the water that runs off your roof could permeate down and flood your basement.
Common reasons for sewer backup
- Clogs: A clog is the most common cause of sewer backups within a property. If it appears to only be affecting one toilet or sink, it’s likely the clog is inside that particular drain. If you’re noticing a backup with every flush or every time you use a sink, the clog is likely in your main sewer line.
- Tree roots: Sometimes tree roots grow right into the pipes creating holes and blockages, and other times the root may wrap itself around the pipe and end up crushing it.
- Broken or collapsed pipes: These are common in older homes and can be a major cause of sewer backups. Plastic pipes are now industry standard, but older homes with cast iron piping run the risk of damage, particularly in the winter.
Preventing water damage caused by basement flooding
Some causes of basement flooding are out of our control, but there are things property owners can do to help protect themselves against this risk.
Ask an expert: Bring a licensed plumber into your property to complete an investigation. Every home is different, so following standards and tips from others may not work in your case. Someone who’s well-versed in this area will provide you with insight on the specific nature of your plumbing to ensure you’re taking the right steps to avoid any potential damages. Ensure you choose a plumber who’s been certified.
Seal yourself in: After speaking to an expert, you may find you have vulnerabilities in your property’s foundation, walls or floor. Sealing up any and all cracks found will help keep water out.
Keep storm sewers clear: When storm sewer entry points are blocked or clogged, it prevents storm water from being able to properly drain, which increases the chances of city flooding. Make sure the sewers surrounding your property are clear of leaves, garbage, ice and other debris that could prevent water from draining.
Maintain your eavestroughs and downspout: It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the buildup that takes place in eavestroughs and cleaning/ clearing them regularly to avoid any blockages.
Be mindful of what goes down the drain: When preparing food or washing dishes, try to avoid allowing any food remnants, fats, oils or grease to go down the drain. These often build up inside your pipes and result in blockages.
Reduce water usage during heavy rainfall: If there’s a big rain or snow storm forecasted on a particular day, try to avoid excessive use of water. Wait to do your laundry the next day and keep showers as short as possible. The more stress you put on your municipal sewage system, the more likely a flood becomes.
Make sure your policy covers water damage
Speak to your insurance company to ensure that certain types of water damage are covered in your policy. Every policy is different and there may be things you think you’re covered for but aren’t. If you have any questions regarding insurance coverage for water damage, our specialists are always happy to help.
This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.