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Basement Flooding – What To Do

Basement FloodingOne thing no one wants to ever discover is that they find that their basement is flooding.  It would rank near the top of anyone’s list on things they never want to see.  When you discover that your basement flooding, what do you do next and what could have caused it.

What Could Cause Basement Flooding

A simple reality is that basements prone to flooding.  Basements are the lowest point in any home and in many cases they are below ground level which will be lower than any ground water.  We have all seen water flows down hill and can get into the smallest opening.  Lets look at some of the causes for your basement flooding.

Dry Weather Flooding

1     Foundation Drainage Issue – all houses are built on foundations and in BC the building codes require that they are designed to have a drainage system so that any water is below the level of the top of the foundation.  This can either be done by gravity or by a pump system.  Regardless of this, gravity systems may degrade over time and stop removing water from around the foundation.  

2     Water Supply Line Failure – in order for us to have water into our homes, the water needs to get into our homes through a supply line.  It is possible  there could be a degradation of the supply line that could cause a leak and water will then enter your home.

3     Hot Water Heater Leak – we all love a nice hot shower and our hot water heater is how the water goes from cold to hot in our homes.  If your water heater develops a leak, you will have some amount of flooding in your basement. 

Wet Weather Flooding

1     Overland Flooding – As we can get quite a bit of rainfall and snow around here, water may pool from the rain or melting snow around the home.  If pooling occurs any opening like a window or crack in the exterior can lead to the water entering your home.

2     Drainage Failure – as mentioned above with regards to the foundation drainage. Excess amounts of water can put the removal of water above the level for the drainage systems ability to remove the water.  If this occurs then water will enter your home in any available opening.

3     Sewer Backup – if the sewers around your home are full there is a possibility of a backup into your home.  

4     Hot Water Heater Leak – a hot water tank does not care if its wet or dry, it can still have a leak.  If your water heater develops a leak, you will have some amount of flooding in your basement. 

Safety First

When discovering that your basement is flooded, do not go running into it blindly.  Water and electrical do not mix and that is just one danger you could be facing.  These safety concerns before you enter your basement.

1     Electrical – do not go into your basement if you think that the water has gone above the electrical outlets, furnace or any other electrical items.  If you think this is possible then check BC Hydro for safety information.

2     Gas Leaks – natural gas smells like rotten eggs.  If you smell this odor;
       a – leave your house 
       b – open your windows if safe to do so
       c – do not use anything like a lighter or match or anything that can create a spark  
       d – call Fortis BC emergency line at 1-800-663-9911

3     Sewage – there may be sewage in the water and sewage can contain bacteria and wearing protective clothing is recommended to protect yourself.

4     Chemicals – the clean up of a flood can expose people to harsh chemicals that can be dangerous to all living creatures.  

What To Do

If you decide do anything then follow these steps.

1     Turn off electricity and gas.  If you are unable to do so safely then call a professional.
2     Wear boots and gloves for protection.  If possible use a face mask and hip waders if you have them.
3     Determine the source of the flooding.
4     Make sure any floor drains are not clogged
5     Start removing water from the basement, whether by pump, wet dry vacuum or a mop and bucket.
6     Move damaged items out of basement
7     Remove any carpeting out of basement
8    Give several days of drying time
9    Wash down floors and walls to remove any dirt or debris
10  Remove any damaged drywall and insulation
11   Call your insurance company

Prevention

We cannot prevent basement flooding 100%, there are some things we can do that will help reduce the possibility of having your basement flood.

Clean Your Foundation Drains

Most homes have perimeter drains installed slightly below the house foundation. These drains collect water from your house and property and direct it out to the City storm sewer. These drains are pipes and can become blocked by such things as leaves, pine needles, silt, dirt or roots. The drains need to be periodically flushed or cleaned and, if very old, may need to be replaced. If they are not maintained, the amount of water they can handle is reduced which can result in flooding inside the house.

Clear Gutters & Catch Basins

Another precaution is to ensure that the City gutters and catch basins (inlet drains) are clear of leaves, garbage, and other debris. During a rainstorm, it can take several hours for City crews to remove the debris that is blocking water from a catch basin. To help prevent flooding in your neighborhood, remove debris that you see in your nearby gutters. After a snowfall, keeping the catch basins clear from snow.  This will also help prevent flooding when the snow melts or when we have a “rain on snow” storm event.

Clear Ditches & Culverts

If you have an open ditch along your property, it is important to check that the ditch and culverts are clear. This includes inside the culvert.  It is common for our crews to remove milk jugs, soccer balls, and other items from blocked driveway culverts.

Roof Drains & Splash Pads

Your down pipes are connected to a hole near the house foundation, your down pipes are likely connected to your perimeter drains.  These down pipes take rainfall from your roof gutters to the perimeter drains around your house foundation.  This can cause excessive flow to your foundation drains and result in basement flooding of your house.  To prevent this, direct your home’s down pipes onto splash pads.  This allows rainfall from your roof to soak into your lawn and garden.

 

 

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