Valuable Information On Home Flooding

I found this very infomrative article about home flooding and how you can protect your home this spring season. Very perfect fitting for the upcoming spring dethaw in Nova Scotia!!

Stop the flood before it starts

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of basement flooding.

Causes of basement flooding on private property:

There are a number of reasons why basements flood. Flooding can occur:

  •  When stormwater or ground water seeps into the home (drainage failure):
      • A crack or leak in your home's foundation, basement walls, or basement windows or door.
      • Poor lot grading or drainage
      • Failure of the weeping tile system (foundation drains)
      • Failure of a sump pump (in some homes) used to pump weeping tile water.
      • Overflowing eavestroughs
      • Leaking or plugged downspouts
  • From a sewer backup:
      • When waste water from the sanitary system or a combination of waste water and stormwater from the combined sewer system back up into the property, usually through fixtures tied to the sanitary sewer lateral, including the floor drain, toilets, sinks, showers and laundry fixtures located in the basement.
      • A sewer backup can result from a blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street, a sewer main backup or when the sewer system becomes overwhelmed with stormwater.

What you can do outside the house

  • Seal cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations, and seal all window wells.
  • Clear eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and other debris that prevent proper drainage.
  • Disconnect your downspouts from the sewer system, where feasible (without negatively affecting neighbouring properties or creating an area where water will pool on a sidewalk or driveway) .
  • Make sure your disconnected downspouts are draining properly, ideally two metres (six and a half feet) from your foundation's walls.
  • Ensure the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation wall to help drain water away from your home (without negatively affecting neighbouring properties).
  • Increase the green space around your home with native plants and shrubs and install porous pavement to help absorb rainwater and melted snow.
  • Repair/replace damaged weeping tile systems.
  • Clear debris from roadside catchbasins (grates) to help water enter the stormsewer. (If it is safe to do so.)
  • Ensure drainage swales (shallow ditch) between properties are maintained and clear of obstructions.


What you can do inside the house

  • Ensure that your plumbing and drainage systems are in good working condition. Homeowners are responsible for the plumbing from the property line to inside the home.
  • Part of reducing the risk of basement floods is to understand how your plumbing and foundation drainage systems work and how to maintain them. Every home is different and homes over time have been built with different building practices and building codes. Some of what you should know about your home, includes:
    • Know the location and condition of your sewer lateral (the pipe that connects the plumbing in your home to the main line on the street).
    • Find out if you have a storm sewer lateral (pipe) and if so the location and condition of it.
    • Find out if you have a backwater valve or sump pump, and if so, how to maintain them. Understand what is needed to keep a sump pump operational during power outages.
    • Find out if you have weeping tiles and if so, their condition and where they are connected. (A weeping tile is a perforated pipe that runs around the perimeter of your foundation to intercept groundwater. The weeping tile gives the groundwater a place to go. Where it goes depends on the type of foundation drainage system your home has.)

To understand some of these elements of your home, you may want to hire a licensed plumber who can conduct specialized testing or inspection, often through video camera inspection.

  • Once you understand your plumbing and drainage systems, you also have to maintain them. 
    • Fix cracks, blockages or other condition problems.
    • Avoiding creating clogs:
      • Toilets are not for trash. Do not flush down the toilet items such as dental floss, personal care products (including "flushable" wipes), condoms, tampons, razor blades or anything which can block the sanitary pipe.
      • Never pour any fats, oils, and grease down the drain.
  • Hire a City-licensed and qualified plumber to install a backwater valve and a properly-sized sump pump and piping. Ensure the proper and regular maintenance of basement flooding devices in your home.Sump pumps need power to operate, so consider installing a back-up power source.
  • Seal cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations, and seal all window wells.

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 Information on backwater valves and sump pumps

Consider hiring a City-licensed plumbing contractor to conduct a detailed plumbing investigation to help assess and recommend options to reduce flooding. It is advisable to get estimates before going ahead with any work.

A licensed plumbing contractor can assist to:

  • Install a backwater valve (see diagram below) on your sanitary and/or storm sewer line to prevent water from backing up into your basement. Backwater valves need to be installed properly and regularly inspected and maintained.
    Install a backwater valve diagram
    Important: Backwater valves are designed to close the sewer line and prevent water from entering your home. When the valve is closed you should not use any plumbing fixtures, such as toilet, sink, dishwasher, washing machine, etc., because water will not drain through the sanitary line and will backup into your home.


  • Install a properly-sized sump pump, (see diagram below) to help pump out water collected by the weeping tile system to an area outside. Make sure the sump pump empties onto a permeable surface at least 2 meters from the foundation wall. Sump pumps can lose power during severe storms, so you may wish to consider a battery back-up. 
    Install a properly-sized sump pump diagram
  • Backwater valves and sump pumps need to be inspected and maintained to ensure optimal performance.
  • Some work may need a building permit.

Keep your plumbing clear

Avoid creating blockages in your plumbing and the City's sanitary sewers:

  • Dispose of small amounts of cooking oil and grease in your green bin (making sure there's material to absorb it). Never pour oil or grease down the kitchen sink or into the toilet. Grease can build up and cause blockages in the City's sanitary sewer pipes, which can cause basement flooding.
  • Toilets are not for food, trash, dental floss, Q-tips, or other personal care objects, including "flushable wipes". These should be disposed of in the appropriate bin

Source :  via @City of Toronto



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Roeann LaGuff

Roeann LaGuff

CENTURY 21 Trident Realty Ltd.
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