Basement flooding in Lapeer has been an issue recently, with heavy rain and more to be expected. Knowing how to prevent basement flooding and also what to do if it occurs can help you save thousands in water damage cleanup. Even the most well-prepared basements can flood. If you’ve experienced basement flooding in Lapeer, then call Aladdin’s.
Flooding of basements can occur any time. It can happen to anyone who has a basement, even if never flooded before. While most often flooding occurs during big rains or rapid snowmelts in the spring, it can occur even during dry weather.
There are a number of reasons why basements flood. Flooding can occur by seepage or flow through the walls or foundation floor, from surface water sources, or by a sanitary or storm sewer backup. Please remember:
Basements are inherently prone to flooding. They are, by definition, the lowest level of a building, typically built partly or entirely below ground level.
Groundwater is water that is naturally located below the ground’s surface. The groundwater level can be, at times, above the level of the basement floor. In some locations, groundwater can be above the level of the floor at all times.
Sewers are also located in the ground. This includes all varieties – storm, sanitary, and combined. While in most cases, sewers are below the level of the basement, the water level in the sewers can be, at times, above the level of the basement floor.
Gravity does its best to move water from high to low. If either the groundwater level or sewer level around your home is above the basement floor, gravity will try to move that water into your basement. A crack in the foundation floor, for example, provides gravity with a perfect path for water to be pushed into the basement. Sanitary sewers always have a path to the home, by design, and it is called the sanitary sewer lateral. While under normal conditions, the lateral allows water to flow from your home to the sewer, there is the potential for water to move from the sewer toward your home.
In order to understand why a basement might flood, it is important to show the more common pathways, intentional or not, that permit water to flow into or around your basement. Not all homes in Lapeer have a storm sewer lateral, but most just have a single sanitary sewer lateral.
Most common problems are on private property, or are things that are within a home owner’s ability to change – whether by regular maintenance or by specific projects to eliminate or reduce potential flooding sources. Some of these problems include:
Sometimes, your basement can flood during dry weather. While not nearly as common, it could reflect structural or plumbing issues. Some common reasons for basement flooding in Lapeer during dry weather include:
Wet weather can obviously cause flooding in basements. While rain is the most common culprit, melting snow and ice can also create problems. Here are common causes of basement floods in Lapeer due to wet weather:
In summary, there are several different circumstances that can result in basement flooding. So how can you stop it?
Part of reducing the risk of basement floods is to understand how your drainage and plumbing work. Every home is different, and homes over time have been built with ever changing building practice and building codes. Things that are valuable to know about your home’s plumbing include:
To understand these elements of your home’s plumbing, you may wish to engage a licensed plumber who can conduct specialized testing or inspection, perhaps through using a video camera.
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out how the foundation drainage works and where it drains to, and a video inspection may not be enough. Some of this learning may require some extra efforts from specialized contractors, such as camera inspections or dye-testing. The City and Utilities Kingston may have some of this information which is why it is worthwhile speaking to your municipality first.
Your insurance does not cover any flood damages related to “overland flooding”, including flooding that is caused by heavy rainfall, riverine flooding and all other sources of overland flooding. This also includes flooding occurring due to cracks in the foundation, or up through the sump, should any sump pumps fail to operate properly.
Typical home insurance, on the other hand, does offer coverage for sewer backup, whether from the storm or sanitary sewer system.
This coverage is not necessarily automatic. It is prudent to verify with your insurer that you are insured for sewage backups, and to review the stipulations of that coverage. For example, what would happen to your coverage if you were to make a claim? How does it affect your rates, or insurability? Learn about this aspect of your coverage to understand the implications and know what is covered and what is not. If your home is not insurable due to previous flooding claims, find out what you can do to reinstate coverage, if anything.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for your connections to the municipal systems, and for what you put into those connections. In summary though, a few items that are noteworthy for the average home owner to know and understand:
There are a number of simple things a homeowner can do to reduce their risk of basement flooding.
Fats, oils and grease can cause a sewage backup because they have a tendency to solidify and accumulate in your internal plumbing, the sanitary lateral or the sewer main. While fat, oil and grease may be liquid when warm, they quickly cool and solidify as they flow through the plumbing pipe network. Flushing down with hot-water generally does not eliminate this risk, it may just get the substance a bit further down into the plumbing system.
The municipality will not take responsibility for any blockage due to fat, oil or grease accumulation and blockage that is found on any portion of the lateral.
While a rainy day may seem like a great time to get some domestic chores done, including doing laundry or running the dishwasher, it does increase flood risk for yourself and possibly your neighbours. To reduce the risk and reduce the load on the sewer system, wait until a few hours after heavy rains to undertake heavy water-use practices in the home. This helps you and your neighbours!
This is particularly important if you have a backwater sanitary valve on your sanitary sewer. If the backwater sanitary valve is closed because the sewer is full, you risk flooding your home since your own domestic wastewater will not be able to drain to the sewer main.
The lowest level of your home is your basement floor, and it is at the greatest risk of getting flooded. The basement floor is where water will accumulate first, and anything stored on the floor is at the greatest risk. If you do need to store items on the floor, consider lifting them up a bit on shelving or supports, or using water-tight containers.
Catch basins are the storm sewer grates located on the street, and they are responsible for storm runoff drainage to the storm sewer. In some cases, you might even have one in your front or back yard. Often, particularly in the spring after snowmelt or in the fall when the leaves drop off the trees, catch basin grates can get blocked by debris that accumulates on top of them. This may cause or worsen localized street flooding, which may increase the risk of high groundwater levels and possibly surface flooding of neighboring areas including homes, all occurrences that are not covered by insurance. If you know of a catch basin outside your house on the road or even on your lawn, or neighbor’s lawn, consider taking ownership of it and keeping it clear of debris. This simple activity might save you or your neighbor from flood problems.
As mentioned earlier, while some insurers may offer it as an extra provision to your home insurance policy, in most cases, home insurance does not cover floods occurring from surface-water or ground-water getting into your basement, whether by direct overland routes of via cracks or holes in your foundation walls or floor.
As with anything, foundations deteriorate over time. With this deterioration, and potential construction flaws and differential settling, cracks may form in your foundation, either on the walls or on the floor. When the groundwater level around your home is high, it may submerge these cracks and pressurize them to the point where they leak water. Leakage rates may be minimal, but they can also be substantial, depending in how much water there is near the crack, and how big the crack is. So, just like you get the shingles on your roof replaced, say every 10-15 years, it is also important to maintain your foundation.
In many cases, you may be able to simply seal the cracks from inside the basement, without any need to dig. But for larger cracks, or particularly persistent ones, contracting the help of professionals may be required as these may be candidates for more substantial repairs done on the exterior of the house. You may wish to flip through the City’s Yellow Pages for “Foundation Repair” to help find a suitable contractor.
One good way to ensure effective drainage of your roof is to maintain your eavestroughs and downspouts. Ensure they are clear of debris and not partially or fully plugged. Plugged eaves and downspouts may result in water filling up and spilling over and discharging to locations close to the foundation. In addition, blockages allow for water to freeze and expand and break apart the seam on downspouts, such that water may spill out down the wall.
A big rainfall is a great time to take a walk around your home, and make sure everything is working as it should.