Cheap and easy ways to protect your home from spring flooding

With temperatures on the rise, spring melt flooding may become a factor for homeowners in the Grand River watershed, and there are simple and inexpensive ways to reduce the risk of water getting into your home or basement. 
Ginni Winkles splashes around in her family's basement after it flooded following record-breaking rains in Windsor in Feb, 2018. The Home Flood Protection Program has cheap and easy ways to minimize the risk of flooding in your home during the spring melt. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

With temperatures on the rise, spring melt flooding may become a factor for homeowners in the Grand River watershed, and there are simple and inexpensive ways to reduce the risk of water getting into your home or basement. 

"Take care of what you've got," recommended Cheryl Evans, director of the Home Flood Protection Program, based out the University of Waterloo's Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation.

"If you've got a house, you've already got things that are installed: you may have a sump pump, you may have a backwater valve, everyone has eavestroughs."
The Home Flood Protection Program has these tips for minimizing the risk of basement flooding in your home as the spring thaw hits. (Home Flood Protection Program)

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, on average it costs homeowners $43,000 to restore a flooded basement. 

In a survey of more than 350 homeowners, Evans and her team learned 40 per cent had never maintained their sump pump; 53 per cent weren't doing regular maintenence on their backwater valve. 

She said that kind of routine maintenence makes a real difference, as waters rise. 

"It's like brushing your teeth. It's not fancy, just do it. Take care of it."

Evans helped develop a three-step guide for homeowners to reduce the risk of basement flooding, ranging from little to no cost, to more expensive measures. 

Warm temperatures forecast for Thursday

The Grand River Conservation Authority has said it is monitoring ice jams as temperatures were forecast to hit 13 C Thursday, with rain.

Communities prone to flooding include Cambridge, New Hamburg, Grand Valley, West Montrose, Brantford, Caledonia, Cayuga and Six Nations.

"There's still quite a bit of ice in the river system as well as a whole lot of snow on the landscape, so what this event will do is it will cause some melting and certainly heighten our level of awareness and level of vigilance when it comes to keeping an eye on the conditions going on," Linwood told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Tuesday.

The Home Flood Protection Program's research shows basement flooding has been on the rise over the past decade, with multiple factors at play.

Advice for tenants: control what you can

The Home Flood Protection Program's research shows basement flooding has been on the rise over the past decade, with multiple factors at play including older homes, an aging homeowner population and decaying public infrastructure. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

"As cities change and grow, you have more hard surfaces. Then when these rainfall events come down there is less space for that water to be absorbed," she said. Older homes, an aging homeowner population and decaying public infrastructure also contribute to more flooding. 

For renters, Evans said tenants really only have control over their possessions and recommends buying easily washable carpet, keeping valuable items in plastic bins or at least a foot off the floor and investing in furniture with wooden and metal legs — instead of cloth. 

Best of all, she said, tenants should share the three-step flood prevention document with their landlord. "Your landlord is going to want to reduce flood risk. They want happy tenants, they don't want to pay out money for damage," she said. 

"They'll probably be excited to see that you're a committed tenant who cares about the condition of the home."

About the Author

Jackie Sharkey

Associate Producer, CBC KW

Jackie Sharkey has worked all over the country with the CBC over the past decade, including Kelowna, Quebec City and Rankin Inlet, NU. She frequently reports on the arts and is particularly interested in stories where consumer and environmental issues intersect.

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