Avoiding Wet Basements and Flooding

According to U.S statistics, ( I couldn’t find any stats for Ontario) 60% of basements in the U.S. have had moisture or water in them at some point. Ontario can’t vary too far from that stat.
With the amount of snow that we have received this season, and with that comes water when it’s melting.

There are many different reasons one may experience water in their basement, but here are a few of the common reasons;

At this time of year, the ground is still frozen beneath the snow, but often, the ground around your basement never freezes due to heat loss from your basement. With that perimeter of thawed ground, and with snow melt and rain, the water will run wherever it can, and often that is down beside your basement wall. Often this causes your sump pump to run overtime and can cause it to fail due to wear. Another common problem lays in the landscape of your property or adjacent properties. Homes that we’re built in the last 20 years in subdivisions, had yards that were designed for proper water management through the use of swales. Swales are gentle ditches that are formed along property lines to direct water away from your house and your neighbour’s houses then to either catch basins in the street or storm water management ponds. You see these large man made pools in and around subdivisions surrounded by chain link fencing. Often what happens is home owners inadvertently damage or eliminate these swales by building fences within the swale without protecting the integrity of the swale, or, landscape projects with gardens and patios wipe out the swales partially or completely.

For those of you who have sump pumps in your basements. Here are a few tips to follow;

  1. Check outside to make sure water is being diverted away from the house. If it is pooling in areas around your house you may need to start trenching the snow to get it to drain .

2. Maintain your swales or have a qualified landscape contractor create them.

3. Make sure your downspouts are attached and pointing away from the house and to an area where the water is being diverted

4. Check your sump pump. With sump pumps with floating ball switches, make sure the ball cant get hung up on the cord or discharge pipe. It must be able to float up freely when water enters  the sump pit and drop accordingly.

5. If your pump is running a lot make sure you have a back up one. If you are a bit of a handy person, for approximately $150.00, you can purchase a spare pump and have it on a shelf ready to install in the event of a pump failure. It’s a cheap price to pay which can avoid the aggravation of having to clean up after a flood. There are also battery back up pumps and pumps that actually run on household water pressure without hydro. There are also pumps with alarms that will sound a warning or send a message to your smart phone in the event of a pump failure.Consult with a plumber that deals in these types of systems.

You may think it will never happen to you! You wake up expecting a normal day, then you open the basement door and your week has dramatically changed. Be prepared.
– Have a back up pump or one with an alarm.
– Own a wet/dry shop-vac to help clean water.
– Maintain your exterior grading, pay attention to the conditions outside your home as they change hourly in a spring thaw.
– If you are prone to water in your basement, store your items on blocks of wood, shelving or in plastic totes.
– In the event of a flood in your basement, it’s not only the mess of water you need to deal with. There is potential for damage to your furnace and hot water heater.
– If the water is not dealt with properly, there is also the risk of mold growth that you may not realize is growing weeks after the cleanup.
Canada is a great place to live, but owning a home here comes with the responsibility of understanding your need to do some basic water management.

Happy Spring!

James Bazely, President – Gregor Homes Ltd.


1 thought on “Avoiding Wet Basements and Flooding”

  1. Back to your second point where you say have a landscaper create and maintain your swales, I totally agree. When you hire qualified professionals you get quality results. If you are unsure it is always good to ask for help. Most landscapers and contractors like that will offer a free consultation to get you in their door. Utilize it. You could find out that your minor inconvenience could actually be detrimental to your home. Then they offer professional services, equipment, and experiences to deal with it. It is good to be a penny-pincher but in some cases, like your home, it is good to spend some money.

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