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Keep Your Basement Dry This Spring

Why basement flooding happens:

In spring, melting snow and early rains can cause basement flooding – either via cracks in the foundation, leaking window wells or other structural issues. Sometimes a sump pump can fail, or a sewer can back up due to issues with the public sewer system.


Water in a basement has all kinds of negative consequences. Besides the immediate mess and damage to belongings that can be an irritation and expense to clean up, there can be damage to walls and flooring that require insurance claims and renovations. There are long lasting effects of mold and mildew if water seeps in and is not discovered right away. Insurance rates can go up, and property value can suffer if it goes on too long.

What you can do to avoid flooding:

  • Shovel snow away from exterior walls if you get a late snowfall or are having a late melt
  • Clean out your gutters – this is a chore not to ignore!
  • Clear out window wells and check for leaks
  • Check your foundation for cracks that may need further inspection or attention
  • Direct downspouts away from your home, and add extensions if necessary
  • Watch your landscaping and grade – are there issues? Anything you can fix or remedy?
  • Check your sump pump to be sure it is working properly, and have it checked periodically

Be prepared:

  • Check your insurance policy – what’s covered? What’s not? Do you need additional coverage? Now is the time to ask, not later
  • Check your storage and belongings – what do you store in your basement? Is there a better place for these items? Paperwork, memory boxes, keepsakes, important documents – all of these should be safely stored above the reach of potential water damage. Move or rearrange your storage in case the worst happens
  • Keep contact numbers handy. Having a recommended plumber’s name and number at hand will be a relief, as will having your insurance documents and contact information close at hand. Don’t be trudging through water to open filing cabinets to look for this info. Put them in your phone or put the wallet cards in your wallet – whatever system will work for you
  • Keep an inventory of your belongings, especially the most valuable or expensive. A list of what you own, the value of each item and the receipts for the most valuable would be immensely helpful in the event of an insurance claim

What else can you do?

If you live in a very flood-prone area, you could carefully consider the furnishings you choose for your basement as an extra precaution. If you build a home or develop the basement, choose flooring that can be easily cleaned after being wet. Ensure that furniture has legs or some elevation to keep your belongings off the floor. Build shelving to keep your possessions from getting soaked every time water seeps in.

Consider rallying with friends or neighbours in flood-prone areas. Let people know you are willing to help out or come to their aid if the worst happens and ask if they will do the same for you. If you end up with a wet basement, wouldn’t it be great to have a few people to call who can help support you, bring supplies and assist in the clean up? Or at the very least, if you have kids, take them off your hand for a few hours while you clean up and deal with the water? In this day and age, it’s easy to forget to be neighbourly…but having friends and family to help in a crisis can make all the difference.

Have you ever trouble with water in your basement?

What caused it? What did you do? Any tips to add to our list?

Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

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