Water damage prevention

Water damage has now surpassed fire as Canada’s leading cause of personal property claims. Examples of water damage include flooding, sewer backup, broken pipes, leaky plumbing, and more. To help avoid water damage in your home, and unnecessary home insurance claims, take a few simple precautions to decrease the chances of it happening to you.
Close-up of flooded floor and person walking on floor with rain boots

Inside your home

  • Buy or increase your sewer backup coverage as needed
  • Install a sewer backup prevention valve on the main line of your home
  • Install water monitors that alert you if a leak occurs and shut off the main water supply if moisture is detected
  • Inspect all plumbing for signs of cracks or leaks, and replace older plumbing
  • Inspect older appliances, particularly washing machine and dishwasher hoses, and replace them with steel braided hoses.
  • On appliances and/or plumbing fixtures, replace old and worn rubber hoses with flexible steel-braided hoses
  • Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down household drains
  • Check water supply lines regularly for leaks and loose connections
  • Check caulk and grout around bathtubs and showers and retouch as necessary
  • Reduce home water use during heavy rainfall and rapid thaw to reduce pressure on sewage systems and potential for water back-up.

Talk to your insurance broker to review your policy and learn what coverage exists in regards to water damage

Outside your home

  • Before the winter, drain all pipes and garden hoses
  • Keep storm sewer grates clear of leaves and debris
  • Disconnect downspouts draining directly into the sewer system and redirect them at least 6 feet away from your home’s foundation; test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof
  • Ensure your lot is graded to aid drainage away from your home
  • Make considerations for reverse-sloped driveways
  • Ensure there is at least 200 mm (8 in) clearance between finished ground level and the bottom of the downspout; otherwise consider installing window wells
  • Ensure waste water lines are not blocked by tree roots
  • Ensure you roof doesn’t have loose or curled shingles
  • If you have a septic system, have it pumped and serviced regularly

Foundations and basements

Your home’s foundation and basement are areas where significant, and often expensive, damage can occur. The origin of leaks is often traced to the foundation. Minor cracks in the foundation are not normally cause for concern; however, major cracks can represent substantial movement and can allow water to seep into your basement. Filling in foundation cracks and stopping them from spreading helps to prevent water damage and serious structural issues. To diminish risks of water damage in your basement:

  • Find and seal any cracks in foundation walls and basement floor
  • Avoid storing items directly on the basement floor (store items in plastic storage containers on raised shelving)
  • Be sure to keep floor drains unobstructed
  • Always check your basement for leaks after heavy rainfall or a rapid thaw

Sump pumps and backwater valves

A sump pump is a common and effective basement water collection system. Sump pumps collect water from the weeping tiles around basements and send it outside, away from your home. The sump pump is activated by a float switch that turns on when the water in the sump rises past a certain level.

To ensure your sump pump is in good working order, check the float to ensure it’s clean and moving freely by slowly pouring water into the sump tank. Watch for the float to rise and start the pump. Once the pump starts, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump.

Backwater valves installed on the main water line of a home are an effective way of preventing sewer back-up. Many municipalities amended their building codes to ensure that backwater valves are installed in all newly constructed homes.


Check out our preventative tips videos.

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