Heavy rainfall is nothing new for a Toronto summer, but it does seem that we are seeing more of these major weather events in recent years. We all remember the record-breaking rainfall and flooding that occurred in 2013.

While heavy rain and some occasional flooding are not unheard of in the area, the floods that hit the Toronto area in 2013 were a real test of the city’s ability to deal with such an event. Homes lost power, roads were overwhelmed with rising water and thousands of homes experienced significant flooding.

With spring here, and summer right around the corner, you want to make sure that your home is ready to deal with the potential for flooding. Along with keeping your eye on the local flood forecast from Toronto and Region Conservation, taking the time to check your sump pump is a smart move toward protecting your home from flooding.

What is a Sump Pump?

Flooding can occur in just about any home. It does not matter if it has never happened before; the potential is always there. As snow melts and heavy rain comes in, the spring and summer are the times when Toronto homes are at the greatest risk for flooding.

A sump pump is one of the most common devices for protecting homes against flooding. A sump pump is a self-activating pump that goes in a home’s basement or crawlspace, and it is designed to turn on when the water reaches are certain level.

The sump pump will be installed at the lowest part of the basement or crawlspace. At this lowest point, a small pit or basin will be opened in the basement floor. The water runs down to the pit, and when it fills to a certain level, a float switch will engage the pump. The pump will then remove the water through pipes or tubes, and release it in an appropriate location. Once the water goes down to a certain level, the float switch will then turn the pump off.

Having a functional sump pump is important because it protects the home against flood damage. Without a good sump pump, water could accumulate in the basement to the point where your home could suffer extensive water damage. On top of that, the sitting water could result in issues relating to mould, mildew and fungus growth.

The damage that can result from a flood can be very expensive to fix, so having a sump pump may not seem like a big deal on most days, but it can save you some serious money in the event of a flood. This is why a sump pump is a good thing to have in the home, and why it is so important to remember to perform yearly inspections and maintenance to ensure that your sump pump is in good working condition.

Sump Pump Maintenance

Having a sump pump is a smart move toward protecting your home, but it is not something you can forget about once it is installed. Just like any other machine, a sump pump will need some maintenance. Without the proper maintenance, your sump pump could fail when you need it most.

Once a year, you will want to check the inlet screen to make sure that it is clear from debris. The inlet can pull in things like dirt and other types of debris when the pump is in operation. Over time, this stuff can build up, and this will clog the inlet and render the pump inoperable.

If there is a flood watch or a flood warning, you may want to check your sump pump to make sure that it is plugged in and that the cord is in good shape. If heavy rain is expected in the coming days, you may also want to pour a little water in the pit just to make sure the pump turns on.

You also want to make sure that the sump pump is in an upright position and that the float is not jammed. During operation, there is the potential that the pump could tip over or that the float could get jammed when it goes back to the off position.

It could also be a good idea to get your sump pump inspected by a professional plumber. If you have any problems getting the pump to turn on, a plumber will be able to inspect the pump and test its operation. They could also clean the pump and check the lines that expel the water from the pit.

A professional plumber may also be able to provide you with a few additional solutions that may help in the event of a sump pump failure. You could have a water alarm installed that will let you know if the water level in the basement has risen to a certain point. You could also consider installing a backup sump pump.

Protecting Your Home From Floods

Along with maintaining a functional sump pump, there are several things that you could do to protect your home against flooding. This includes home maintenance like having your gutters cleaned, sealing any foundation cracks, ensuring that the ground is properly graded away from the home and more.

If you have a weeping tile system, you will also want to make sure that it is well maintained. If you do not have one, it might be a smart move that will further protect your basement from flooding.

As another point, you may want to consider having a backwater valve installed. In the event of a flood, the sewers and the storm drains can fill with water, and this water could back up through your drains. A backwater valve is a simple device that can prevent this from occurring.

If you already have a backwater valve, then you need to make sure that it receives the regular maintenance and inspection that it needs. If you plan to have a plumber come out to check out your sump pump, you could have both the backwater valve and the sump pump inspected on the same day.

You don’t want to take any chances with the potential for basement flooding this summer. It does not take a lot of time to test your sump pump, and a professional inspection is a small expense when compared to the cost of flood damage. This is why it is a smart move to get your sump pump inspected before the summer rain begins.