Flooding - Minimize your risk

As Calgarians mop up their downtown and Go-train passengers in Toronto wring their socks, you may be thinking about climate change.  You may also be wondering if it’s possible that your home is the next flood victim.  Whether you are hit by swelling rivers or flash flooding from torrential rains, water damage can cause devastating damage to a house and can impact future resale value.   So, what are we to do?  I am not an expert in this area, but here is what I know, and I thought I would share.

Flooding can be caused by:  seepage or flow through the walls or foundation floor, from surface water sources (like lakes and rivers), or by a sanitary or storm sewer backup.   Basements are inherently prone to flooding because they are the lowest level of the house. Basements used to be dark concrete areas designed to actually control flooding.  Now they are home of the “man cave” and 45” flat screen television.   So, if water seeps into your basement it is a problem. 

Here are some quick tips to help minimize flooding:

 - Consider where you need a sump pump.  It will pump out the water around the foundation.

 - You can control surface water with proper lot grading and swales

 - Ensure weeping tiles are in good condition.  They will degrade over time.

 - Regularly check for cracks in the foundation and have them repaired.

 - Keep eaves troughs clean and down spouts unplugged.

 - Don’t pour grease, fats or oils down sinks as they can cause a sewage backup as they accumulate and solidify.

Know your insurance coverage.  Insurance in Canada does not typically cover flood damage related to “overland flooding”, including flooding that is caused by heavy rain, river flooding and all other sources of overland flooding.  You may be covered for sewage backup, but this may not be automatic. Check your policy for stipulations.  

Know before you buy.   Understand the homes plumbing and drainage systems.  If you are considering buying a river side property next to the Mad Raving River, find out why the river got that name.   Some rivers and lakes are prone to flooding.  Find out before you buy.

Safety first.  No one wants to see their home fill up with water.  If it happens, think about your family’s safety first.  Resist the urge to swim in to save the wedding album.  It’s better to make new memories than become one.  Listen to public safety announcements and follow police direction.   If your home is damaged by flooding make sure it is safe before returning.  Check for structural damage and mold.

Flooding can be costly.  Know the risks and create a prevention plan.  If you have any concerns, raise them with your realtor before you buy.   Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to building my ark....

There are many great resources online that can help you create a flood prevention plan.  Here are a few that I used for this article:

http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/gemare/gemare_002.cfm

http://iclr.org/flooddroughthandbook.html

http://www.utilitieskingston.com/Water/basementflooding/basementflooding.aspx

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