These easy steps can protect homeowners from basement flood risk

Published: April 16, 2019



A recent Waterloo University’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation report highlighted the main issues facing homes at risk from basement flooding. The multi-year project found Canadian homeowners are ignoring some basic steps to better protect their properties.

Importantly, the report explained how homeowners can take step-by-step actions to help prevent basement flooding. In most cases, the necessary changes can be completed for less than $250, many thousands of dollars lower than having to deal with water damage from flooding.

Indeed, the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation says the average cost of repairing basement flood damage in 2018 was $43,000. With that in mind, $250 seems like small change.

Easy steps to reduce basement flood risk include:

  • “Completing spring and fall maintenance of existing flood protection features in their homes, which includes clearing out nearby storm drains, removing debris from eaves troughs, testing sump pumps and cleaning out backwater valves.
  • Completing flood protection upgrades themselves, including storing valuables and hazardous materials in watertight containers and raising them off the floor, installing window well covers and extending sump pump discharge pipes and downspouts at least 2 meters away from the foundation or to the nearest drainage swale.
  • Working with contractors and seeking permits and flood protection subsidies from their local municipalities to disconnect their downspouts from foundation drains, raise the height of window wells, install backwater valves and install a backup sump pump and backup power supply.”

Researchers say the best way to engage homeowners into making these changes is through conversations and advice from insurance professionals.

“Our project tested the effectiveness of various outreach approaches to motivate residents to address basement flood risk,” said Cheryl Evans, Director of the Home Flood Protection Program at the Intact Centre. “Sending out flyers and posting tips on social media helps to raise awareness, but that is not enough. Residents trust advice from flood-impacted neighbours, insurance providers and even informed staff at hardware stores.”

“One-on-one conversations with people they trust make all the difference for many people.”