Protecting your basement from spring thaw

Floods can occur in any region of Canada, at any time of the year. Though increasing parts of the country now see relatively warm winters, the annual spring thaw still poses the risk of basement flooding and home water damage. Depending on where you live, your home may be more prone to spring thaw damage than others.

Prevention is your best bet, as the average cost of damage is over $40,000 in cases of basement seepage after snow melts. More than just expense, water damage can ruin your belongings, create a mess, require you to file an insurance claim and take a significant time to clean up. 

Understanding the signs that point to a thaw on the way, and being proactive about taking care of your home, can help you reduce your risks. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to protect your basement from flooding: 

  • Get a plumber to inspect your home for potential issues that could lead to flooding, such as poor drainage, overflowing eavestroughs and cracks in the foundation. 
  • Clean your eaves troughs on a regular basis to avoid clogging and overflow.
  • Refrain from pouring oils and fats down your sink that can congeal and block drains.
  • Keep storm-sewer drains free-flowing and clear of debris.
  • If you have a sump pump, inspect it regularly to ensure it’s working correctly, and consider equipping it with a battery backup in case of power outages.
  • When buying a home, make sure you are aware of any flooding issues in the area. 

Ensure you have an insurance policy that offers coverage for water damage to your basement and the rest of your property. 

What to do if your basement does flood

Despite all your best efforts, it’s possible that the spring thaw is so big and quick that your basement still suffers from flooding. In that case, you’ll need to make a claim on your insurance policy. Be sure to do the following: 

  • Assess and document all of the damage.
  • Call your insurance representative as soon as possible to file a claim.
  • Make a list of all damaged or destroyed items. 
  • If possible, collect proofs of purchase, photos, receipts, and warranties. Take photos of damaged items. If you can, keep them as evidence unless they pose a health or safety risk. 
  • Keep all receipts relating to the cleanup effort. If you’ve been displaced, keep all receipts for emergency and temporary living expenses and accommodations. 
  • Find out what living expenses you’re entitled to according to your insurance policy and for what period of time you’re entitled to keep claiming. 

Above all else, remember not to put yourself in danger if your basement has flooded. Only go down to assess the damage when you are certain it is safe to do so, or when the relevant authorities have said it is safe for you to re-enter your property. Water damage is a frustrating issue to resolve but keeping yourself and your family safe is priority number one. 

The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice. Aviva and the Aviva logo are trademarks of Aviva plc. and are used under licence by Aviva Canada Inc. and its subsidiary companies.