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How to Prevent a Flood

Monday, 11 May 2020

When it rains, it pours! As we welcome the spring season with its warmer temperatures, beautiful blooms and flowers, you must consider and prepare for the risk of flooding in your area and home due to melting snow and increased rainfall. Flooding accounts for nearly $1.7 billion dollars of water damage claims in Canada and nearly 20% of Canada’s population are exposed to flooding with an average cost of $43,000. While you enjoy the hope of spring, learn how to prevent a flood so that you can combat the swift snowmelts and heavy rainfall that may lead to damage on your property.

Flooding Forecast 2020

Reports indicate that potential flooding for spring 2020 is above normal. You can monitor flood warnings in Ontario on this website. It’s crucial for homeowners to assess and prepare their homes and properties to withstand flooding. Information released from the U.S. National Weather Service, which can be a strong indicator for Canadians in the prairies, has reported, “high risk of flooding this spring along the main stem of the Red River with more widespread minor to moderate flooding along the tributaries.”

With homes and infrastructure aging, and growing urban areas impacting the environment, there is an even greater need for homeowners to know how to prepare for a flood. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) has also explained that scientists report “severe rainstorms are occurring more often in many parts of Canada, and they are expected to continue to increase in frequency and severity.” 

How to Prevent a Flood Outside Your Home

There are many steps you can take to prevent a flood in your home, starting with the exterior. Follow these steps for how to prevent a flood and protect your most valuable asset – your home.

  1. Check that your lot is graded properly, directing water away from your basement walls. If you are unable to make significant landscape changes at present, you may purchase a submersible pump and hose in the interim. These will enable you to drain water away from low spots near the foundation.
  2. If you can, repair areas of that may have shifted throughout the years causing water to pool close to your home such as sidewalks, patios, decks and driveways.
  3. Clear any snow away from your home’s foundation before it begins to melt.
  4. Cover your windows with water wells so that water is not able to collect near them.
  5. All downspouts should extend one to two meters from your home and drain water away from yours and your neighbour’s property.
  6. Catch runoff water with a rain barrel.
  7. Ensure that your eavestroughs and gutters are regularly cleaned and unblocked.
  8. Clear storm drains clear of leaves or debris near your home.
  9. Repair or replace your roof if shingles are deteriorating or missing.
  10. Have a licensed plumber inspect the weeping tile.

How to Prevent a Flood In Your Home

  1. When your plumber is visiting, also ask them to check out the sump-pit and sump pump if you have them. Ensure they’re working properly and that there are no blockages. Ensure your sump pump has a large enough motor to support the size of your home. Your sump pump should have its own outlet, circuit breaker and backup battery if there is a power failure.
  2. Look into installing a backwater valve – your plumber will be able to help you with that. A backwater valve is device to stop sewage and water from re-entering the house during heavy rainfall. Have your backwater valve checked annually.
  3. Water leak sensors and alarms can send you notifications about potential leaks and more advanced models can turn off your home water if it detects an issue.
  4. Obstructions should be moved away from any floor drains.
  5. Have cracks in basement foundation, windows and floors properly sealed.
  6. Your HVAC system should be protected, ideally a professional should elevate the furnace and hot water tank above the basement floor.
  7. Keep items off the basement floor – install shelving. Move any valuables on a higher level in the house so that they’re less likely to be damaged.
  8. Avoid pouring fats, oils or grease down you drains that may harden and clog pipes.
  9. If there is heavy rainfall, try to limit your water use at home.

How to Minimize Flood Damage in Your Home?

Flooding is imminent in some cases, regardless of how you prepared your home. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the damage of flooding in your home with these actions:

  1. Clear gutters and drains of debris.
  2. Block any gaps with sandbags to stop further flooding.
  3. Shut off your electric panel if the water level is rising to a point where it could cause damage.
  4. Allow air to circulate in your home if it’s not raining by opening windows and doors to help promote drying.
  5. Double check that your sump pump is functioning well.
  6. Document the flood with photos and videos for the purpose of an insurance claim if you have coverage.

What Is Overland Water Coverage vs. Sewer Backup Coverage?

It’s crucial to understand the difference in these terms to determine if you have the right coverage. If you don’t have overland water coverage and sewer backup coverage, one may negate the other in a claim.

Overland Water Coverage covers flood damage due to water flows over the land and seeps into the openings of buildings including doors, windows, cracks or open spaces. The Government of Canada calls this “one of the most frequent and costly natural hazards in Canada.”

Sewer backups happen when water comes back through drainpipes flooding into your home, usually accompanied by terrible odours and matter. Avoid touching this water at all costs as it can create severe health hazards.


While you take as many precautionary measures as you can on how to prevent a flood, you should make sure that your insurance can cover you in the worst-case scenario. Be sure to have the conversation early, asking your broker about the coverages you currently have and the limits that may be an option. You certainly don’t want to end up in a situation where you try to make a water damage claim and discover it’s not covered. Adding extra coverage might not be a significant change to your premium either, so explore every option! Speak with a broker at Billyard Insurance Group to find out what the best options are for coverage for your home.


By: Amy Legault