What to do when you have water in your basement

01 Spring

Spring brings relief from the cold and dreary weather, but it also brings along a few challenges for property owners especially if your home is older. Warmer temperatures mean snow melting and the weather forecast calls for lots of rain. Many basements in the Greater Toronto Area cannot handle the extra moisture. So, what do you do when you find the basement has become a wading pool?

First of all, don’t panic. You will, with a little help, get through this crisis. Get in touch with your insurance company to check what your homeowner’s policy covers. Report the details of your particular situation. You are probably not the only one in your area. Be patient and keep your cool.

Water Flow

Safety First

  • Make sure you contact the City by calling 311.
  • Contact Toronto Hydro to turn off the power! If water has risen above the outlets in your basement or is near the electrical panel, do not wade in until you can do so safely.
  • If your home is heated by gas, you will want to take steps to have the gas supply cut as well.
  • Contact a contractor for assistance if required.
  • Make sure you protect yourself by wearing appropriate gear before wading into the basement – boots and rubber gloves are probably a good idea.
  • Without power, the basement is going to be dark – make sure you have a good flashlight.

Next Steps

See if you can determine how much water and what has caused the influx. Whether it is an inch or two or things are floating in your basement, you need to know why. Do you have a burst pipe, a drain blockage or backing up, water coming in your windows, or through cracks in the masonry? There are different steps required for each of these issues. Turning off the source of water if you suspect a pipe has burst, for example.

If a storm or flooding is the prime source of the problem, you might have to wait it out before doing much in the way of remediation. You could be fighting a losing battle if water continues to rise while you are trying to bail out the basement.

If you have only a small amount of water, you can likely pump it out of the basement or mop it up. Gather up any papers, books, photographs, or other items you had stored in the basement and take them to a dry spot in your home. Some items will be salvageable while others will need to be discarded. Furniture and carpeting will have to be assessed for damage once they have dried out. You have to be cautious with any item that cannot be easily sanitized; cushions on sofas, upholstery, and carpeting can easily provide a breeding ground for bacteria that creates mould or mildew.

Electricians can advise you what to do with any appliances you had in your basement. You should probably leave them in place until you are confident they can be safely removed. Don’t tamper with them unless you are sure you will not be shocked!


Once the rain or flooding has stopped and the water has been removed from your basement you can start on your recovery plans. Before you start moving anything back into your basement, you need to air it out. Rent or borrow a dehumidifier and check it frequently. While the water may be out of the basement, the air is still likely to be moisture filled. You will be impressed by how much water gathers in the dehumidifier tank. Be prepared to empty it frequently especially in the first few days after it’s installed.

Clean your basement walls and floors. Check them for damage or evidence of the presence of mould and mildew. You may need to have them professionally cleaned or replace any wall drywall or flooring that has become too damaged. You may not see mould or mildew at first but you will eventually smell it and will need to determine where it is growing.



Now is the time to have a professional basement waterproofing company come in for a consultation. A company such as City Wide Group can fully inspect your basement and set out a plan to protect you from further problems. Getting your foundation waterproofed will provide you with peace of mind that your home and belongings will stay dry.

Check with the City for possible financial assistance in protecting your home. There is a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install flood protection devices such as a backwater valve, sump pump, and severance and capping of a home’s storm sewer or external weeping tile connection.

City Wide Group will conduct a full inspection to identify cracks or faults, blocked drainage systems, problematic window wells or other issues with your foundation that are causing it to fail. You can opt for interior or exterior waterproofing which will include a waterproof seal to be adhered to your foundation for greater protection. Each home and its solution will be different, make sure you are dealing with a company with a solid reputation in the Greater Toronto Area. City Wide Group, a family-owned company, has more than 50 years of experience, is the winner of the Consumer Choice Awards for 22 consecutive years, and HomeStars “Best” for four years running. Check out their customer reviews on line and then call for a free estimate. Make sure to ask them about their fully transferable life-time guarantee on your basement waterproofing project.