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The Causes of Basement Flooding and How You Can Prepare For It


My son recently had to deal with a basement full of unwanted water and mud. This is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but with spring here and rain storms, melting snow base etc, the potential for flooding your yard or basement increases dramatically. However, flooding can in many cases be avoided. In this article we’ll take a look at the reasons why basements typically flood and then discuss a few practical steps on how to avoid basement flooding.

Why Do Basements Flood? Water is most likely to enter your basement during periods of heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting rapidly during a spring thaw. Usually, the wet basement can occur due to:

*Poor lot drainage

* Crack in the wall(s) of your basement.

*Weeping tiles (foundation drains) not working properly or failing altogether.

*Rain gutters overflowing; downspouts leaking or plugged.

*If you live in the city flooding can also be caused by a blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street.

Easy Steps to Prevent Basement Flooding:

A. Gutters and downspouts – The first and easiest step in preventing flooding is examining your gutters and downspouts. Water is channeled from the gutters into downspouts. Downspouts should extend at least 6 – 7 feet from your basement wall, away from the house and your neighbor’s house toward the street or back yard. If the downspouts are too short and bringing the water too close to your foundation, the water goes directly to the weeping tile which is not designed to handle such quantity of water. If your downspouts are connected to your home’s sewer system, or weeping tile, disconnect them. Keep your rain gutters clean and free of debris so that they don’t overflow and dump the water close to the foundation. If they overflow even when clean, clearly your house was equipped with the wrong kind. Replace them with larger size and downspouts to increase their capacity.

B. Grade Your Lot – The weeping tile around the basement has limited capacity. If the rainwater heads into it, the weeping tile can overload. That is why it is important to have land around your home slope away from the foundation. If your lot slopes inward, you’ll want to fill in the area approx 2 meters wide (6 ft+) around your house and grade the lot so that the land slopes away from your house. Build up the ground around your house so that water drains away from your basement walls. As well, take a look at other parts of your space outside – sidewalks, patios and driveways. These may have settled over a period of time and cause water to flow back towards your foundation and accumulate there.

C. Furnish Your Basement Appropriately – The final defensive measure to reduce damage in your basement is to furnish it appropriately so that if flooding in the basement does occur despite your best efforts to prevent it, you minimize the permanent damage that can occur. Install ceramic tile on floors and the bottom part of your walls. The damage from flooding is lessened and the clean up much easier. It is also a smart idea to have furniture that has legs. Finally, area rugs are the wiser choice over a full broadloom as they can be removed, cleaned and dried.

D. Home Insurance – Part of being ready for a possible basement flooding is to have home insurance that fully covers basement flooding damage. It is an important component of financial protection for homeowners. It is advisable that you check with your insurance agent to make you have adequate insurance coverage for basement flooding including sewer back up.

Good luck with the preparation needed and let’s keep fingers crossed that you won’t have to deal with this problem but have the peace of mind in knowing you are prepared.

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