Reducing the Risk of Basement Flooding

This article is courtesy of the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia (

Weather patterns are changing across Canada causing increased frequency and severity of rainstorms. These rainstorms are resulting in increased water related losses which makes water damage the number one property risk for consumers.

The majority of water damage is occurring in the basement area of homes. Water damage can result in expensive repair bills and can also ruin many of your possessions.

As a consumer there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and protect your home and property.

Steps to take inside your home:

  • Move valuable items from the basement to an upper level.
  • Install a sump pump.
  • Use water resistant building materials in basement areas.
  • Install backwater valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections.
  • Raise large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels up on wood or concrete blocks which are above the water level. If an item cannot be raised take precautions and anchor it and protect it with a floodwall.
  • Fuel tanks should be anchored to the floor because a fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire.
  • Install flood shields or buildup barriers for basement windows and doors. The tops of the shields should extend above ground level.
  • If flooding is imminent, shut off electricity to areas of the home that might be affected.

Steps to take outside of the home:

  • Ensure proper lot grading. When possible build up the ground around your house so water can drain away from your basement walls.
  • Check sidewalks, patios, decks and driveways to make certain they haven’t settled over time and are causing water to drain toward your house.
  • Landscape with native plants and vegetation that resist soil erosion.
  • Keep water out of window wells.
  • Clear snow away from the house foundation. If the ground is sloped one inch per foot near the house, moving snow just three to five feet from the house will reduce problems.
  • Make sure the downspouts extend at least six feet from your basement wall.
  • Water should drain away from your house and neighbouring homes toward the street, backyard or back lane.
  • Use a rain barrel to catch water runoff.

Insurance coverage

It is important to note sewer backup cover is not automatically included in all home insurance policies, although it is sometimes offered as an optional coverage that you can purchase. There has never been a better time to talk to your insurance broker to find out more about these optional coverages. Contact us today to discuss your home insurance needs.

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