Basement Flooding

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Basement flooding is an increasingly common occurrence in Canada. It usually happens during periods of heavy rain or melting snow in spring time.

Most floods are caused by water backing up somewhere in the water system, which then enters your basement either via a leak or crack in your home’s basement walls, or a failure of the weeping tiles (drainage system) around the foundations of your house.

Some of the most typical causes of basement flooding are the following:

  • The connection between your house and the main sewer in the street might be blocked. The pipe from your property to the main sewer carries both waste water and rain water, so if this is blocked, both types can back up into your basement.

  • The sanitary pipe buried under the street may be blocked, which will cause waste water to back up onto your property.

  • The storm sewer buried under the street may be blocked, which will cause rain water to back up onto your property.

  • Excess rain water may enter the sanitary pipe in the street, which will cause water to back up onto your property.

  • The basement walls or weeping tiles might be cracked or may have deteriorated over time.

  • The land around your house's foundation might slope towards the foundation, instead of away, which will cause all rain water to flow towards the foundation.

  • Downspouts might be too close to the house, which will lead rain water straight onto the foundation of the house.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that there are almost 40,000 basement flooding incidents a year for which home owners want to claim from their insurance companies. In many of these cases, owners find out too late that they are not covered for the type of flooding they experienced. This is why it is so important to understand what your insurance policy covers and what it excludes.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Sewer backup can be covered in home insurance policies, but check with your insurance company to make sure.

  • Flooding is not typically included in home insurance policies, and has to be added separately. This means that, in case of heavy rain or melting snow, whatever damage occurs to the house will usually be the owner's financial responsibility to repair.

  • Seepage and leaks are also usually excluded from home insurance policies, unless the owner adds it separately. This includes any leaks from outside the home, including from a swimming pool. These are counted as floods and thus excluded.

Investigate what is covered by your home insurance policy. Further, maintain your home at all times to prevent seepage and flooding as best you can.