How to Protect Your Home from a $43,000 Repair Bill

Less than $250 could save you tens of thousands

Water damage makes up almost half of all home insurance claims, and for those claims that involve a flooded basement the price tag is high. It's estimated that the average cost to repair a flooded basement is $43,000, yet, according to a new report there are protections that residents can implement, for often less than $250, that will safeguard their basement against the effects of flooding.

"For many Canadians, their home is their biggest asset and ultimately their retirement fund," said Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre and a professor at Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. "To protect that investment, any homeowner who lives where it rains can easily and cost-effectively deploy simple measures to lower their chances of experiencing basement flooding."

Most of these measures, he added, can generally be undertaken over a course of a weekend and could go a long way to minimize the chance that a homeowner may have to turn to their home insurance after a storm happens.

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Three steps to reduce your risk of flood

The report highlights numerous ways a homeowner can reduce their risk of basement flooding and buckets them into three categories:

  1. Do-It-Yourself for $0: Maintain What You've Got Twice a Year
  2. Do-It-Yourself for Under $250: Complete Simple Upgrades
  3. Work with a Contractor

Do-It-Yourself for $0: Maintain What You've Got Twice a Year

Twice a year, in the spring and fall, you're encouraged to take care of the flood protection measures already in place in and around the home. In particular, you should:

  • Clear out nearby storm drains
  • Remove debris from eaves troughs
  • Test your sump pump
  • Clean out your home's backwater valve

Do-It-Yourself for Under $250: Complete Simple Upgrades

A few one-time projects around the home can also reduce your risk of basement flooding and lower the cost of cleanup if, despite your best efforts, the worst happens.

  • If you're going to store valuables in your basement, place the items in watertight containers and store the containers on shelves so they're not directly on the floor.
  • Avoid storing any items, valuable or not, near your basement's floor drain.
  • Invest in flood alarms. When placed in strategic areas, like near a washing machine, boiler, or hot water tank, you'll be alerted quickly that there's an issue giving you time to mitigate the potential for damage.
  • Minimize the risk of water entering your home by ensuring water isn't pooling near your home's foundation. Install window well covers and extend downspouts and other discharge pipes so they're at least two meters away to keep the water at bay and away.

Work with a Contractor

Not everything is a DIY and sometimes you have to call in an expert. Implementing these flood prevention measures may require the help of a contractor, possibly a permit depending on where you live, and will likely cost more than $250 but could save you money later on down the road.

Fortunately, some municipalities offer subsidies for some of these initiatives should you decide to act on them:

  • Disconnect your downspouts from foundation drains
  • Raise the height of your home's window wells
  • Correct your lot's grading so water naturally flows away from your home's foundation
  • Install a backwater valve
  • Install a backup sump pump and backup power supply

An infographic that details the three types of things you can do around the home for cost-effective flood protection.

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