Study highlights common problems causing increased basement floods

Published: April 15, 2019

Updated: April 16, 2019

Author: Luke Jones



Homeowners in Canada could better protect their homes from risks of basement floods. According to a new report, all it would take is a bit of knowledge and a small cost of less than $250 to improve mitigation.

Waterloo University’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation has completed a multi-year study that details the most frequent flood risks facing homeowners in Canada and the most cost-effective ways to help protect against basement flooding.

During the project, researchers looked at flood assessment data from over 500 homes in southern Ontario and Saskatchewan through 2017 and 2018.

“For many Canadians, their home is their biggest asset and ultimately their retirement fund,” said Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre and a professor at Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment. “To protect that investment, any homeowner who lives where it rains can easily and cost-effectively deploy simple measures to lower their chances of experiencing basement flooding.”

“To date, many homeowners have simply not known what to do to protect their homes from flooding – this report corrects that omission by identifying actions that most homeowners can act upon, generally over a weekend.”

In Ontario, home assessment data showed the most common problem facing homes is the lack of backup power or a backup sump pump (85 per cent). Water damage risk to household items was next with (71 per cent), while neglecting maintenance of backwater valves (53 per cent) and sump pumps (40 per cent) were also common.

Outside properties, assessors reported the following common issues: “low window wells (82 per cent), downspouts that deposit water less than 2 meters from the foundation (78 per cent), poor grading that directs water towards the foundation (69 per cent), and cracks or gaps in the basement windows (63 per cent).”