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In deep water: How to prevent flooding

Spring flooding has become the new normal across Canada, and the damages it causes can be significant. Thankfully, there are some effective ways to prevent and protect against flooding. 

Close-up of flooded floor and person walking on floor with rain boots

While the personal costs of climate change can sometimes be hard to calculate, the impact on residential basement flooding is clear: In Canada, the average cost of fixing weather-induced flooded basements is $43,000 and the average selling price of homes in flooded communities was 8.2% lower.

While preventing flooding may seem like a daunting challenge, being prepared is the first line of defence. Start by checking with your broker about your home and auto coverage. Move on to doing some simple, regular maintenance around the house like removing debris from eavestroughs and nearby storm drains and ditches, checking for leaks in your house’s plumbing, regularly testing your sump pump and cleaning out your backwater valve.

Next, consider some simple and largely inexpensive upgrades to your property. Think about installing a flood alarm and window well covers, and extending your downspouts and sump discharge. Gain some peace of mind by storing valuables and hazardous materials in watertight containers and make sure you’ve secured your fuel tanks. 

How to reduce the risk of flooding

The following step would be to contemplate some more involved upgrades. While more costly, installing water-resistant windows, raising window wells and correcting your grading to direct water away from the foundation are actions that will substantially improve how prepared your property is. 

The next phase in preventing flooding is monitoring the weather. While spring’s melting snow has a huge impact on the probability of flooding, storms and torrential rain can happen throughout the year. No matter how ready you are, floods can still happen. 

Protect your basement from flooding

Do what you can to waterproof your belongings by storing objects that may be damaged (electronics, books, etc.) on raised shelves and counters and, like you’d already done for your valuables, get plastic bins to store bedding, clothing, equipment, tools and more. 


Infographic explaining options for basement flood protection

If the water level rises enough to reach your home, it’s time to get serious. Check with local authorities to find out how to get sandbags that can be used to build a dike that you can install alongside wooden boards. Reduce the risk of fire or being electrocuted by turning off the gas and electricity in your house (but if your home has already flooded, let your suppliers turn everything off). If the authorities ask you to leave, the danger is real and imminent—but first, check what the road conditions are like and if your car is driveable. 

From minor property damage to more serious, life-threatening situations, flooding is a fact of life for many Canadians. But if you follow the advice mentioned here, you’ll be able to rest assured knowing that you’ve done everything possible to keep your family and property safe and secure

What about your car?

Don’t drive your car if water has seeped inside. For safety reasons, the car will need to be replaced. Does your car insurance provide “all perils” coverage? If so, the damage may be covered.

What about your insurance policy?

Depending on your situation, you may need additional coverage (or addendum) on your home insurance policy to cover flood risk. Talk to your broker to find out if you are covered and learn which coverage is best for you.