Spring weather means melting snow and ice and an end to winter’s deep freeze. Due to a variety of conditions this winter – ice storm debris, snow and ice accumulation and spring rain – many municipalities in Toronto are warning residents that there is a higher than average flood risk this spring. Basement flooding becomes a greater possibility this time of year and being proactive is critical to prevent both the financial and emotional burden of such a hardship.
Basement flooding can be caused by numerous factors like a crack in your home’s foundation, poor lot drainage, overflowing eavestroughs, blocked connection between your house and the main sewer in the street or back-up wastewater in the sewer system. In many cases, basement flooding during the spring thaw can be caused by melting snow, heavy rain and water fun-off filtering through the earth, and coming up against your basement walls and floor where the pressure will lead the water into your foundation right into your basement.
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The city of Toronto is currently in the process of conducting environmental assessments of 34 chronic basement flooding areas in various neighbourhoods throughout Toronto. The city’s Basement Flooding Protection Program is a multi-year program which aims to reduce the risk of future floods by improving the city’s sewer system and overland drainage routes. In addition to comprehensive studies of these target neighborhoods, planned enhancements include constructed infrastructure improvements on a priority basis.
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The Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program provides homeowners up to $3,400 in rebates for installing a flood protection device such as a backwater valve, a sump pump, and disconnecting external weeping tiles from the sewer system (by severing and capping connected pipes.) One thing that homeowners need to bear in mind however is that since the July 8, 2013 flood, more than 4,000 applications have been received resulting in a 20-plus week processing backlog.
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Protecting your basement from flooding can be achieved by examining all of the potential water entry points. This can and should be done by a professional basement waterproofing company to ensure the work is guaranteed to last. The main ways to protect your basement from flooding can include:
- 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.
- 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).
- Disconnect your downspouts from the sewer system (where feasible) and make sure they are draining away from your property, ideally two metres (six and a half feet) from your foundation’s walls.
- Hire a City-licensed and qualified plumber to install a backwater valve and a properly-sized sump pump and piping.
With the amount of snow recorded this winter, city officials are reminding residents and homeowners to be aware of any flooding issues and to call 311 if you experience any water leakage in your basement.