Kitchener-Waterloo

Prevent basement flooding this winter: 3 tips from experts

Environment Canada is forecasting snow and rain for Waterloo Region this weekend. CBC Kitchener-Waterloo consulted three experts for tips on how to prevent flooding in your basement.
Environment Canada forecasts snow and rain for Waterloo Region this weekend. (Amanda Grant/CBC News)

Environment Canada is forecasting snow and rain with a steady thaw coming over the next few days for Waterloo Region this weekend.

That could mean a whole lot of extra water in and around your home, given the snow that's accumulated over the past week.

Last February, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo consulted three experts for tips on how to prevent flooding in your basement. In case you missed it, here's what they had to say:

Clear snow away from your home

Advice from Mike Seiling, director of building for the city of Kitchener:

"[R]emove excess snow from the roof, excess being amounts greater than two feet. Be very careful, because in addition to the snow up on the roof, there will be some ice underneath some of that snow.

Another area to prevent water [from] coming inside one’s house would be to remove the snow that’s piled up directly at the overhang and eavestrough to expose the eavestrough, whether frozen or not. What happens is, where there [are] large quantities of snow on the overhang and the eavestroughs are covered in snow, the water will back up. It will enter below the shingles and could enter below the house.

The other opportunity for water to enter the house is through the basement. If the downspouts aren’t clear and free of snow and ice, water will overflow the downspout and could enter through any cracks in the foundation. It’s wise to keep the downspouts free and clear of snow and ice.”

Check your sump pumps

Advice from Mark Turner, Turner Home Inspections: 

“It’s very important to make sure our sump pumps are working properly, especially in Waterloo Region where we have a lot of clay in the soil. The typical homeowner can go down just check their pump by lifting the float up and making sure it’s running properly or dumping water into the sump pump pit to make sure that the pump is actually running.

What’s going to happen is that water’s going to permeate through the ground right by the foundation and go right into the weeping tiles, which is going to make our sump pumps run like there’s no tomorrow…until it gets rid of all the excess water. Making sure that sump pump is running is going to be really important.”

Look for basement gaps, consider drainage

Advice from Dan Sandink, manager of Resilient Communities Research at The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:

“You want to look where utilities like hydro and maybe cable TV come into your basement and …see if there’s a gap that might be around where those utilities come into your basement. Consider moving snow away from those areas or possibly even sealing up those gaps to reduce the amount of water that might come in your home.

Another thing you want to do around your home is look at how your downspouts are draining away from your home. In general, you want to make sure that water drains away from your home as far away ... as possible. If you have a downspout that’s draining directly beside your foundation wall, you want to make sure the water can clear the foundation area safely, or possibly even redirect your downspout a few feet away from your foundation wall and make sure the water flows off of your property safely. This might involve clearing a bit of snow out of the way to make sure the water can flow toward the street or to a catch basin on your property.”