Ten Ways to Prepare for Winter Flooding
The Polar Vortex is back! Ontario (and much of North America) has been in the grip of a deep freeze, but with a sudden warm front comes a big melt. The combination of deep snow, rapidly warming temperatures and rain creates perfect conditions for winter flooding.
In 2018, insurance damage from severe weather in Canada reached $1.9 billion, most of which was due to flooding. The sudden, unpredictable shift in weather can wreak havoc and cause costly damage to properties. As a commercial property owner, property manager or homeowner, the best strategy is to take preventive measures.
Follow these 10 tips to help protect your property from flood damage following winter thaw:
Waterproof your basement.
Fill cracks in the foundation, and put weather protection sealant around windows and the base of ground-level doors. Install flood shields or barriers for basement windows and doors.
Clear debris from roof and eavestroughs.
This will ensure roof drains properly during heavy rains. Downspouts should extend at least six feet from basement wall, well away from your and neighbouring properties.
Clear snow from roof.
Your roof is designed to handle a certain load, but heavy snowstorms can cause snow to overload its capacity. A snow thaw can lead to roof leaks as water seeps into cracks and damaged vents. Basements can also flood when large amounts of snow and ice melt quickly. *Only a professional should attempt to access or climb a roof in the winter.
Raise large appliances in basement onto wood or cement blocks.
If possible, raise electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring and heating systems – or protect them with a floodwall or shield.
Anchor furnaces, water heaters, and/or oil tanks to the floor.
Unsecured, they may tip over or float in a flood. A ruptured tank may leak fuel, creating a serious fire hazard.
Check that basement flood drains are not blocked or covered.
For extra precaution, install a water alarm to let you know if water is accumulating.
Make sure sump pump is working.
Install a battery-operated backup in case of a power failure.
Install backflow valves for drains, toilets and other sewer connections in the basement.
These valves automatically close if water or sewage backs up from the main sewer.
Turn off the electricity.
This is key in flood-prone areas of the property if a flood is expected in your area.
Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance.
Standard residential insurance does not cover floods caused by water overflowing from lakes, rivers and other bodies of water (called overland flooding) but may be available separately. For business owners, flood insurance is usually available as an add-on coverage to commercial property and to business interruption insurance policies. Commercial sewer backup coverage is also available but usually purchased separately.
Always stay informed. Follow public weather alerts for your area at weather.gc.ca/warnings.
When hiring a restoration company, make sure it is certified by a professional standards organization such as the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Certified technicians provide trusted and trained cleaning, restoration and inspection.