Basement flooding is one of the most frustrating realities of owning a home, and in Toronto, it’s all too common with the combination of crazy weather, old homes and the many sloping lots. Take a look at some of the frequent causes of this problem:

  1. Cracks or leak in a home’s foundation, basement walls, windows or door
  2. Poor lot grading or poor drainage
  3. Failing foundation drains
  4. Failing sump pump
  5. Overflowing eavestroughs
  6. Damaged or plugged downspouts

A sewer backup can also cause basement leaking. When the wastewater from the sanitary system backs up, or wastewater and stormwater combine, it’s possible for it to enter your system and cause flooding in floor drains, toilets, sinks, showers, and laundry fixtures.

Signs to Watch for:

There are some certain signs that your basement is at risk of flooding, and we recommend if you see any of these to get the help of a professional plumber without delay:

  • Water trickling down from walls
  • Water appearing in pools on the floor
  • Concrete walls become saturated at the base
  • Air feels damp and humid
  • Condensation appears on cold walls and floor during summer
  • Development of a musty odour or mildew
  • Carpeting and wooden floors deteriorate
  • Wooden headers, joists, sill plates, and columns begin to show signs of rotting
  • Wallcoverings show signs of stains and blistering
  • Concrete starts showing “spalling” or pock-marks

Prevention Methods

There are two areas that you can focus on for protecting your home: inside and outside. For the exterior, you can:

  1. Seal off cracks and openings in walls, floors, windows, and foundations as well as window wells.
  2. Clear out your eavestroughs and downspouts of any leaves and debris, repair any damage.
  3. Disconnect your downspouts from the sewer system if possible (make sure it won’t affect your neighbors or create a place where water will now pool like on a sidewalk or driveway).
  4. Ensure the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation walls.
  5. Increase the green space around your home with native plants and shrubs to help absorb rainwater and melted snow.
  6. Repair/replace damaged weeping tile systems.

For the interior of the home, there are also measures you can take to protect yourself against basement flooding:

  1. Check that your plumbing and draining systems are in good condition. Have a plumber come out regularly to conduct an inspection.
  2. Talk to your plumber to gain a better understanding of how your home’s drainage system works so that you can learn how to properly maintain it.
  3. Find out if you have a sump pump or backwater valve and how to maintain them.
  4. Find out if you have weeping tile, their condition and where they’re connected.
  5. Fix cracks, blockages and other condition problems in any plumbing lines.
  6. Avoid creating clogs in sinks, toilets, and showers by properly disposing of waste.
  7. Never pour fats, oils or grease down the kitchen sink.

Benefits of Protection

You’ll also get to experience these primary benefits of flood prevention:

Reduced Costs – This seems like the most obvious benefit to basement waterproofing. By closing off cracks, you’re no longer letting the warm air escape with cold air coming in creating drafts. In the summer, you keep the air-conditioned air inside the house and thus, you end up saving quite a lot in energy costs.

Avoiding Health Risks – Long term exposure to mold can be seriously damaging to your health. With a humid and leaky basement, the ability for mold to grow skyrockets. Toxic black mold, if in the right conditions, can grow in as little as 24 hours! Make sure you’re keeping you and your family safe from harmful conditions.

Protecting Your Investment – Think of the day that you bought your home. There’s a feeling of accomplishment, pride and for the first few months, you probably treated the house like it was a fragile egg-baby. Your home is your investment, and it makes sense to take care of it and ensure it’s protected against the elements.

Don’t wait until you become a victim of basement flooding to take the steps necessary to avoid problems. Explore the City’s rebate assistance options and find out how you can qualify.