what is a basement floodin

The basements of every house are vulnerable to the water intrusion. It may be flooded even if nothing like this has ever happened before. The most feasible causes of water intrusion in your house are strong rains, snow melting and spring thaws. This article tells about potential reasons of basement flooding, precautions against it, and measures in case it already happened.

The causes of basement flooding
The flooding of the basement mainly happens due to the following reasons:
• a crack or leakage in the foundation, basement wall or basement windows or door;
• drainage system issues;
• failure of sump pump;
• overflowing of eavestroughs;
• leakage or plugging of downspouts;
• backup from a sewer.

While flooding, waste water or combination of waste and rainwater gets inside the house via toilets, kitchen sinks, showers, laundry, etc. The plugging of sanitary sewer lateral that connects your house and main street sewer or the overflowing of storm sewer may be the reasons of it.

Types of sewers in Toronto
There are three types of sewers in Toronto:
• Sanitary sewer;
• Storm sewer;
• Combined sewer.

The sanitary sewer is designed to collect waste water. It is connected with the home’s plumbing and the sewage gets to wastewater treatment facility via it.

The storm sewer collects rain water from the streets and roads via street drains and also from downspouts. The water collected by the storm sewer flows to different rivers and creeks and finally gets into Lake Ontario.

Combined sewer combines the functions of sanitary and storm sewers. It is used mostly in old districts of the city. Rain water and sewage are taken to the wastewater treatment.

How to prevent flooding
You can take the following measures to reduce the likelihood of basement flooding.

Seal cracks and openings in the walls, floors, windows and foundations. Then clean the downspouts of leaves and other garbage interfering with proper drainage. After disconnecting the downspouts from the sewer system (if it is possible) check their water drainage ability. Ideally this should be done not closer than 2 m from the foundation.

The grading around your house should slope away from the foundation as it helps the water to drain away from your home. Use some plants and shrubs to increase the green space around your house and install porous pavements helping to absorb the rainwater and melting snow. If the weeping tile system is damaged, fix or replace it.

Roadside catch basins should be cleaned of the garbage. Clear them if it is safe to do it. Also you should make sure that the drainage swale between the properties is maintained in a proper way and cleared of obstructions.

After you finish fixing outside the house take the following measures inside your home. At first make sure that your plumbing and drainage systems work properly and are in good condition. Remember that the whole plumbing from the border of your property to the inner space of your home is within your responsibility.

Understand the work of your plumbing system and foundation drainage, and the ways of their maintenance. Also you should know whether you have sanitary sewer and rain sewer laterals, and their condition. Also find out if you have a backwater valve or sump pump. If yes, find out their inner arrangement and maintenance, and provide them back up power supply in case of electricity outage. Apart from this, find out the availability, location and condition of weeping tile system which helps rain water to go away from the foundation.

If it’s too complicated for you to clinch all these matters, hire a licensed plumber. He has all needed supply and qualification to conduct testing and inspection.

One of the main reasons of basement flooding is creation of clogs in the house’s plumbing system. To prevent it, remember not to flush any trash down the toilet. This includes such items as dental floss, condoms, personal care products and so on. Also don’t flush any oils and grease down the toilet or kitchen sink in any case.

Backwater valves and sump pumps
To effectively prevent water intrusion into the basement, the backwater valve or sump pump may be installed in the sanitary and/or storm sewer line. They should be of proper dimensions and to receive correct maintenance. Also some types of backwater valves may be covered by the City’s subsidy program.

Backwater valves are used to close the sanitary sewer canal and to prevent the intrusion of wastewater into the house. Any plumbing fixtures including toilet, bathroom, sink, washing machine, etc. may not be used while the backwater valve is shut. If they are used while the valve is shut, the water can’t get into the sewer and will go back into the house causing back up.

The sump pumps are installed to empty the drainage system. It’s important to make sure that the pump is emptied farther than two metres away from the foundation. The porous surface must be used while this happens.

If the basement is flooded
In case all the measures were no use and the basement is already flooded, you should do the following things.

First, don’t use the toilet or sink without the big need unless the issues are solved. All the water flushed down into the plumbing system in this moment may get into the basement and make matters worse.

Second, call your insurance company as fast as you can to tell them about the damage and to discuss the coverage. Take photos of the damage caused by flooding to get the coverage. Also keep all the receipts from repair and cleaning works. Remember that if the flooding has happened due to plugged pipe, foundation leakage or poor drainage, it’s your responsibility to conduct repair works and for all the damage.

Flooding water may contain different contaminating agents such as various agents of diseases, corrosive cleaning solutions and sludge which stays in the basement after the water is pumped out. Contact with them may be harmful for your health. This is a probable reason for hiring a professional cleaning company. If you remedy consequences by yourself, be sure to follow these safety rules.

Keep your children and pets away from the contaminated area. Wear overalls, gloves, protective glasses, rubber boots and a mask. To ventilate the basement, open the windows.

Remember to stay away from operating electrical equipment, especially when there is risk of its contact with water. Try to shut off the whole electric supply of the house if possible. If it’s not, better call a qualified electrician. Remember that the electric power outage may effect the operation of slump pump or sewage ejector, especially if they don’t have preliminarily installed back up power supplies.

If you feel gas odour, leave the house immediately, retreat a safe distance away and call the gas service.

All items which can’t be washed and disinfected should be thrown away. This includes mattresses, soft furniture, toys, books and so on. Drywalls and insulation contaminated with sewage or dirty water should also be discarded.

All surfaces should be washed with hot water and liquid detergent. Use household bleach (1 cup of bleach and 5 gallons of water) for it. Then rinse them, dry thoroughly and ventilate the basement.

After cleaning up wash all used clothes separately from other clothes. Wash them with hot water and detergent after checking up with producer’s washing mode instructions.

All food contaminated food, especially canned food, home-prepared food, meat and dairy products must be thrown away. Don’t keep food which potentially could be contaminated. Also, if the refrigerator’s power was shut off and there was no opportunity to move the food into another operating refrigerator, the food should be thrown away too. If you’re doubtful about the food’s safety after flooding it’s better to discard it.

All food and micro debris may be taken away by regular garbage pick-up service. Check the service’s Garbage and Recycling Collection calendar. All oils and grease should be thrown into the Green Bin after ensuring that it contains plenty of absorbing material.

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