Flooding caused considerable harm to homes in northern and eastern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick last spring, forcing thousands from their residences. In Toronto, high Lake Ontario water levels threatened the islands for a second year in a row, causing distress and prompting many residents to prepare to fight to save their properties.
While flooding on the city’s mainland is less of a concern for many homeowners, the risk is increasing as we see more extreme rains and stronger storms. So, as we put the cold winter months behind us, it’s a good time to prepare for what Mother Nature potentially has in store.
Seven Precautionary Steps
1. Waterproof your basement, fill any cracks in the foundation, and put weather protection sealant around windows and the base of ground-level doors. Install flood shields or barriers for basement windows and doors.
2. Raise large appliances in the basement onto wood or cement blocks. If possible, raise electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring and heating systems; otherwise, protect them with a flood wall or shield.
3. Anchor furnaces, water heaters and/or oil tanks to the floor. If unsecured, they may tip over or float in a flood. Also, a ruptured tank may leak fuel, creating a serious fire hazard.
4. Check that all basement flood drains are not blocked or covered. For extra precaution, install a water alarm to let you know if water is accumulating.
5. Make sure your sump pump is working, if applicable, and install a battery-operated backup in case of a power failure.
6. Install backflow valves for drains, toilets and other sewer connections in the basement. These valves automatically close if water or sewage backs up from the main sewer.
7. Clear debris from your roof and eavestroughs so that they drain properly during heavy rains. Downspouts should extend at least six feet from the basement wall, well away from your and neighbouring properties.
Insuring for Disaster
Before disaster strikes, consider talking to your insurance agent about flood insurance. Standard residential insurance typically does not cover floods caused by water overflowing from lakes, rivers and other bodies of water (called overland flooding), but may be available separately.
If your property has been affected by flooding, it is critical to seek help from a disaster restoration services company within the first 24 hours to prevent further damage and loss of property.