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How to Prevent and React to Basement Flooding

Millions of homes across Canada are fitted with basements. These can provide extra storage space for your possessions or you can get creative with your home's basement. In fact, many Canadians are willing to spend over $17,000 on basement conversions!

Whatever you use your basement for, you need to ensure it is properly protected from basement flooding. With annual rainfall in Canada reaching up to 2032 mm, your basement (and everything in it) can take a real bashing if you don't have the right protection in place!

Not sure how to prevent basement flooding? Then you are in the right place.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about protecting your basement from flooding and what to do if water gets in.

Why Protect Yourself Against Basement Flooding?

Water in your home can create a huge range of issues for you and the people who live there. In fact, every year $1.9 billion worth of water damages are claimed as a result of flooding in Canadian homes — and that's just the people who have insurance.

Water damage can destroy paper, electrics and soft furnishings. It can even cause rust damage to more durable metal items stored in your basement.

On top of this, any flood water that is left standing in your basement can become a serious health and safety risk for anyone living in your home. Standing water can contribute to the growth of toxic mould and is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

So anything you can do to prevent basement flooding is a good idea! With that in mind, let's take a look at how to stop basement flooding from affecting your home.

Ensure Your Lawn is Properly Graded

One of the leading causes of basement flooding is excess rainwater that does not drain away from your home properly. If your lawn slopes downwards towards your house, this can be a serious issue for rainwater drainage.

To prevent a flooded basement, take a look around the outside of your home and see if your lawn slopes directly down into any of the walls. If it does, then it’s time to look into getting some new landscaping that will stop water from getting in through the walls.

For example, you could divert your garden's rain spouts away from your home or install a ‘rain garden’ or ‘green roof’ between your lawn and your property. If these are not preferred, then using heavier mulch can help prevent basement flooding.

Make Sure There is a Gap Between Your Mulch and Your Siding

You should always leave a gap between the mulch in your flower beds and your home's walls. This will prevent the walls from absorbing excess moisture from your mulch.

Ideally, the gap between your mulch or landscaping and walls should be about six inches. You may want to leave a bigger gap if the building material is not very water-resistant anymore.

Improve the Position of Your Downspouts

Your downspouts attach to the bottom of your drain pipes and are responsible for carrying rainwater from your roof away from your home. However, poorly positioned downspouts can cause a serious flooding risk.

Extending your downspouts will ensure that water flowing out of them goes away from your home. This is important as it will stop water from soaking into the ground next to the walls. The further away you can get this water, the better.

You should also think about the landscape that your downspouts empty onto. Ideally, they should drain onto a lawn that slopes away from your home rather than towards it. This means you'll have gravity on your side when it comes to drainage.

Clean Your Gutters Regularly

Your downspouts can only do their job if your gutters are clear. If they aren't then you'll quickly find that they overflow.

When your gutters overflow, water will pour down your home's walls and soak into the ground around them. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to keeping your basement dry. Worse still, water that flows from a broken gutter will hit the ground a lot harder than a light drizzle!

Fortunately, cleaning your gutters out regularly will stop this from happening. You should always clean your gutters out at the beginning of the spring and fall seasons. During the fall, you may want to do this more often as your gutters are more likely to get clogged with falling leaves and other debris.

Install a Sump Pump in Your Basement

Installing a sump pump in your basement may cost you a little extra but it is a great way to protect your basement from flooding. If any water gets into your basement, it will also make your flooded basement cleanup a lot cheaper.

Sump pumps work by automatically checking for excess water in your basement and sucking it up. It then drains the water away safely so that it doesn't cause any damage to your property.

If you do plan to install a sump pump, it's a good idea to also install a back-up one. This will kick in should the first one-stop working for any reason. For example, you can get battery-powered or generator-powered sump pumps that will carry on working if a storm knocks out your power.

You should also carry out regular maintenance and repairs on your sump pump to keep it in good working order.

There are some cases where adding a sump pit is a great solution but in some other cases it may not help you. Make sure to talk to an experienced professional before making any decisions.

What Happens If Your Basement Floods

In some situations, basement flooding can become difficult to prevent. This might happen when extreme weather hits or you experience a plumbing emergency inside your home. In that case, you need to know which basement flooding solutions to apply.

The most important thing to do if your basement floods is to initiate a basement clean up as soon as possible. The longer water sits in your basement, the more damage it will incur.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at some things you will need to do to deal with a flood in your basement properly.

Remove Any Remaining Water

The sooner you can get the water out of your basement the better. This will minimize the amount of damage it can do to your property and to your home's foundations.

The ease of this job depends a lot on the extent of your flooding.

If you had a major flood then you have some options. You can rent, or buy, a wet vac to remove the water from your basement.

If you do not fancy doing this job yourself you can also get help from a professional. They'll come with all the necessary equipment and will be available for emergency appointments as well. This is often a good idea if there is major water damage in your basement.

If you are able to catch a flooding issue early on then you may be able to mop up any excess water using a towel. However, it is important to note that even minor flooding issues need to be addressed properly to prevent them from escalating to something major.

Dry the Basement Out

Before you can carry out any repair work in your basement you should empty it and dry it out. You may be able to rent appropriate gear from your local hardware store, so this is a good place to look before making purchases.

You'll need a couple of fans and dehumidifiers that should run until the space has dried out. These will help prevent unwanted mould or mildew growth in your basement.

For the best results, you should position your dehumidifiers between six and eight inches away from your walls. This will keep the air circulating around the room properly.

While they are running, you will also need to clean and wash the filters in the dehumidifiers. You should do this once a week.

It may take a while to dry out your basement, especially if you've experienced a major flood. If your home is fitted with air conditioning it is a good idea to keep this running while your basement is drying out.

You may also have to remove some damaged drywall as it often can’t simply be dried out.

Scrub Away the Flood Residue

Once the room is dried, you can start cleaning it down. This may be an unpleasant job but most water debris and residue should come off easily.

To do this, mix one cup of chlorine bleach with one gallon of water and start scrubbing!

It is also very important to wear the proper protective gear when doing this as chlorine bleach can do serious damage to your skin and eyes. Because of this, you should always wear rubber gloves and protective goggles when cleaning your basement. Where possible, keep the room well ventilated and keep coming up for breaks on account of the cleaning fumes.

Look for the Source of Your Flood

Getting your basement back in good shape is one thing. However, you also need to make sure that it won't experience similar flooding issues.

The cause of a flood may be obvious but it is important to check for any other issues that may have contributed to it. You can start with the flooding prevention tips we mentioned earlier. These include checking for clogged gutters and redirecting your downspouts.

It’s also a good idea to take a look for any internal issues that may have caused a flood. Blocked drains, leaking pipes, and other plumbing disasters can also cause water to leak into your basement if left untreated.

If the flood was caused by a clogged pipe then getting your drains snaked will prevent such a disaster from happening again!

You should also make sure to get a thorough home inspection to check for any other issues that your flood might have caused.

Restoring Any Damaged Property

Salvaging damaged property after a flood can be extremely tricky and certain items simply won't survive.

For example, carpets and soft furnishing will almost certainly be ruined by a major flood. So you'll usually have to replace these.

Fortunately, however, you may be surprised to find that saving important documents after a flood is relatively easy. Freezing water damaged papers as soon as possible will stop mildew or mould from growing on them. Of course, you will have to peel soaked pages apart but it is worth the effort if they are really valuable.

To really assess what has survived the flood, you should unpack any boxes and let everything from your basement dry out thoroughly. Once this is done you will be able to figure out what you can salvage.

In the future, it is a good idea to store things in your basement in plastic boxes rather than cardboard ones. Provided they're properly sealed, these will keep the water out.

For extra protection, store your boxes on concrete blocks in your basement. That way if there is a flood in your home, the boxes should stay over the waterline.

Protect Your Home from Basement Flooding Today!

When it comes to basement flooding, preventing a flood is much easier than recovering from one. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to protect your home's basement and foundations from flooding! Keep the strategies discussed here in mind and you should be fine.

For more information on how to protect your home from flooding, get in touch today. Our local Edmonton plumbers are here to help!