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3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Basement From Flooding in Winter

drain pipe extension

“Basement flooding.” These two words are near-guaranteed to cause homeowners to break out into a cold sweat.

Perhaps this is because the homeowners insurance industry predicts 98 percent of homes with basements will eventually discover their basements have taken on water.

Buying a home with a basement means that, at some future point, you may find yourself enrolled in a crash course in interior basement waterproofing whether you like it or not.

This is why we say a better strategy than intervention is prevention. In this timely blog post, learn three simple steps to keep your basement from flooding this winter – and any winter yet to come.

1. Revisit Your Home’s Exterior Drainage and Grading

Contrary to popular belief, one of the most common ways that water gets into your basement in the first place isn’t actually from the surrounding soil!

Rather, that water seeps in from above, often due to poor landscape grading near your home’s foundation.

“Grading” is a term that reflects how water is routed around your home above ground. In a perfect world, your grading would route water with a gentle downhill slope away from your foundation so it can run off elsewhere more safely.

But over time, and especially after a series of severe winters with heavy rain and snowfall, that gradual slope away from your home’s foundation can transform into a gradual slope toward your home’s foundation.

This is where problems start to seep in...literally.

Luckily, there are several strategies that can be used to address this. And many are surprisingly affordable!

For example, you could simply add downspout extenders to help direct runoff from your roof’s gutters away from your foundation.

You could build up the ground nearest your home with extra dirt – just be sure to leave at least six inches of clearance between your home’s foundation and the start of the dirt grading (check with your local building codes for the most up-to-date requirements here).

If your basement has windows, be sure to install window wells and well drains so you don’t inadvertently bury your windows as you repair your home’s grading!

2. Give Your Sump Pump Setup an Overhaul

Sump pumps don’t usually attract a lot of attention unless they stop working. Yet this happens frequently enough that they probably deserve more attention than they get.

A working sump pump is perhaps your number one defence against basement flooding, whether minor or major.

But since the majority of primary sump pump systems require electricity to work, guess when most sump pump-related basement floods occur? (If you just guessed “during power outages,” give yourself a gold star!)

Even the most modern, high-capacity, high-efficiency sump pump is only as good as its power source. This is why we always recommend revisiting your sump pump setup and asking yourself what you will do if the power goes out during a storm.

You have more than a few options to address the threat of a basement flood during a power outage and all of them are good ones.

One of the most popular choices is to install a backup sump pump system that runs on a battery or backup generator or even an old-school sensor.

You could simply install a backup generator to power key essentials around your home and include your sump pump in that setup. Today’s backup generators can be programmed to automatically sense power outages and power right up to keep essentials working.

If your sump pump is getting up in years and you’ve been considering a replacement anyway, switching to gas or propane (where available) can also help keep your sump working when the electricity goes out.

3. Repair, Insulate and Waterproof Your Basement

Naturally, basements age just like homes do. Over time, that brand-new construction basement will start to show signs of wear and tear even if you have been vigilant with basic preventive maintenance.

A big part of this is the nature of concrete itself. Concrete, the most popular material for basement construction, is naturally porous. It settles after pouring and again over time. Water from above and from the surrounding soil is attracted to porous materials such as concrete. It will find its way inside, seeping in as far as it can go.

Freeze-thaw cycles can widen tiny fissures in the concrete walls, floor and ceiling, allowing more water to seep in. What was a fluff of efflorescence (mineral salts left behind after water evaporates) then becomes damp walls. Damp walls in turn become beads and then trickles of water. Finally, the day comes when a trickle becomes a stream and then a flood.

If you’ve ever wondered how much it costs to waterproof a basement and assumed it was beyond your budget, it may be time to reconsider how basement waterproofing can help you save and even make you money over the long term.

For example, taking preventive steps now to repair developing fissures and cracks, adding support for sagging walls and separating floor joints, applying protective humidity-proof insulation and affordable basement waterproofing can boost your home’s resale value and lower your homeowners insurance premiums.

And if you later decide you want to rent out your waterproofed, temperature-controlled finished basement apartment, this treatment can easily pay for itself over a single lease cycle!

Get in Touch

Are you seeing signs that your basement may be taking on water? We can help!

Get your fast, FREE EasyQuote for making timely basement repairs and upgrades that will protect your peace of mind and your budget over the long term.

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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