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The Calm Before the Storm: How to Ready Your Home for Wet Weather

Precautions to take to protect your home from water damage.

Is your home ready to weather a storm? Not just your everyday storm, but the type of storm that causes Environment Canada to issue a severe thunderstorm warning? These storms, with their high winds and heavy rain, can cause considerable damage but there are precautions you can take today to minimize the chance you’ll find yourself ankle deep in water. Precautions which may help to ensure you don’t have to rely on your home insurance, if you’re covered, for help in drying out.

Tips to prevent water damage to your home before the rain comes

The following tips, gathered from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the Government of Canada and the University of Waterloo’s Flood Smart Canada project will help your home stay dry when storms hit:

  • Do not pour fats, oils or grease down your drain because when you do, it sticks to the pipes and eventually will cause a blockage.
  • Regularly clean your eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and debris to ensure the water drains off the roof freely.
  • Disconnect your downspouts if they drain directly into your municipality’s storm system. Most municipalities require this nowadays as it overloads the storm system, increasing the odds of a sewer back-up into the home.
  • Ensure that your downspouts extend at least 2 metres from your home’s foundation and that the water drains away from the house.
  • The ground around your home’s foundation may settle over time. If water runs towards your house, rather than away from it, it’s time to address the grading of your lot to ensure there’s a slope away from the foundation. Pay particular attention to your sidewalk, patio, deck and driveway.
  • Repair foundation cracks when spotted and if the caulking around your home’s windows and doors is showing signs of age, it’s time to reseal them.
  • If doing a basement renovation, use water-resistant materials. A basement reno is also the ideal time to elevate and secure large appliances, like your furnace, hot water tank, and laundry so that they’re not sitting on the basement floor.
  • Install covers that protect basement window wells from accumulating water.
  • Test your sump pump several times a year to ensure it is working, and if you don’t already have one, have a battery-powered back-up should there be a power outage.
  • Put in a backwater valve (also called a backflow valve) to prevent a sewer back-up. This valve could be your last line of defence against an overwhelmed storm system that’s trying to flow water (often sewage) back into your basement.

When the water rises will you be covered?

According to a recent IBC survey, almost 45 per cent of Canadians who have a ground-level home think they have flood insurance as part of their home insurance policy. The truth is however, that in general there are only two types of weather-related flooding coverages available in Canada and they’re both optional:

  • Overland flooding: This type of coverage has only been available to Canadians since 2015 and will provide financial relief from water damage that is the result of body of water that overflows its normal boundaries. It may also provide protection from surface water that’s the result of a heavy rainfall, although coverage specifics will vary.
  • Sewer back-up: This optional add-on to your home insurance policy will protect you from the costs of extensive damages and clean up if there is a sewer back-up into your home.
  • If you’re unsure of what type of coverage you have, give your insurance provider a call and have them explain how you’re covered when it comes to water damage. Also ask them specifically what is excluded. For example, it’s unlikely water damage caused by a leak in your window well would be covered if the leak could have been avoided with regular maintenance and upkeep. These are the types of important things to know in advance, especially given the increasing frequency and severity of storms in Canada.

    Don’t let extreme weather drive up your insurance costs

    Although you can’t control the weather, you can shop your home insurance rate to see if you could be spending less for the coverage you need. Compare home insurance rates today for a better price.

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