How to Prepare for Spring Flooding

March 11, 2019

Spring Weather is here! The Sun is Shining! The Basement is Flooding! The Basement is flooding?!?

We’re finally getting a break from the cold, snowy winter weather we have had for the last few months! We all crave the first day of the year when we can leave our winter coats at home. However, with nice weather comes spring melting run off and possible flooding.

Water damage is now the number 1 reason for insurance claims so spring is the perfect time to make sure your home is prepared to handle the extra melting.

What can you do to prepare?

  • Install a backwater valve.

If the municipal sewer line is overwhelmed by melting snow, accumulated rain or a blockage in the system, dirty water can back up into your home pipes and escape into your basement. Installing a back water valve creates a barrier to close your home off to sewer water. It is an investment of between $1000-$2000 to install but many municipalities (including Toronto, Vaughan, Peel Region, Region of Durham, and other GTA municipalities)  There are other benefits too! You can get a discount on your home insurance if you install a backwater valve! This type of damage is not covered by a typical insurance policy, unless you add specific coverage which we’ll talk about later.

  • Install a sump pump.

Another way to get a discount on insurance, and protect your basement is installing a sump pump! Sump pumps are pumps you can install in your basement or crawl space that are designed to remove water if it ends up where it shouldn’t! Most residential sump pumps are installed in sump pits which are holes dug into the foundation of the home to catch water and pump it out and away from your home. Many municipalities offer subsidies for this flood prevention device as well. Most experts recommend installing a batter powered pump to ensure that your basement is protected even if the power is out.

  • Redirect and Extend Downspouts

If your downspouts release water too close to your home, water can leak into your foundation, especially as the ground thaws and extra ground water is released. Extend your downspouts 6 feet from your home if possible.

  • Clean your Gutters

Downspouts that direct water away from your home are useless if your gutters are blocked and water spills over the edge. Take advantage of the first warm, sunny days of spring and clean your gutters to ensure melting water can run properly.

  • Cover Window Wells

This tip won’t help you much now in regards to melting snow, but as March turns to April and April showers arrive you’ll want to consider this. If your basement windows are below grade, meaning they sit below ground level in a window well, you may want to cover the window well with a transparent piece of plastic or plexi glass. This allows light to enter the basement but keeps rain water out, so you don’t have to worry about water getting in through the windows.

  • Purchase Overland Water and Sewer Back Up Coverage on your Home Policy

All insurance providers should offer you water coverage. It comes as a surprise to most people to find out that most insurance policies do not cover flooding at all! It is an additional coverage that, in most cases you need to request or accept when it is offered. Overland water is coverage for fresh water that flows – over the land whether it’s from melting snow or rain.  Sewer backup coverage is coverage in the event that water from the municipal system sends water back up into your home. In any event, this is something you should speak to your broker about adding to your policy.

 

What should you do if your basement floods?

  • Remove Hazards

If your circuit breaker is not located in your basement, or accessible where it is not wet turn off the power in your home. Electrical appliances and devices in the basement that come in contact with water can become dangerous if they are receiving power

  • Assess the Damage

Inspect the area and damage. If possible record a video. If there are items that are not yet damaged but you feel that they are in danger you may want to move them.

  • Identify the source of the flood

Check that all pipes are in tact. If the flood is due to a burst pipe turn off the water in your home. Make sure there is nothing you can do to stop the water. Ensure the sump pump is working.

  • Report the claim

Call your insurance broker and let them know what has been damaged. They can direct you how to proceed.

  • Call an expert

Find a contractor who can help with clean up. Make sure to keep all receipts so that you can file an insurance claim later if you have purchased flood coverage as described above. Ensure everything is properly dried out to prevent mold.

As your insurance broker we are here to help. If you’re an existing client, consider reviewing your water coverage. Give our team a call today to discuss how you can protect yourself in the event of a flood.

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