How to Deal with a Basement Flood in Your Waterloo Home
Purchasing a Waterloo Region home is a significant financial commitment. Being a homeowner also entails preparing for unforeseen situations that could put your property in jeopardy, such as a flooded basement. A flooded basement can be caused by a number of things, including a busted pipe, flooding, or even heavy rain leaking through a window.
If you're a homeowner dealing with the aftermath of a basement flood, you're probably asking yourself a lot of questions. When is it safe to go down into the basement? What is the best way to clean up a flooded basement? When your basement floods, who do you call? Is flooding covered by homeowner's insurance?
Keep these measures in mind should you ever need to restore your basement after a flood, and better safeguard your property against future floods while helping to minimise the damage to your bank account.
Make Sure Your Flooded Basement is Safe to Enter
After your basement has flooded, the first thing you should do is make sure it is safe to enter. If the power is still on, you should never enter a flooded area. Before entering the flooded basement, make sure to turn off all power sources, including electricity and gas.
Large amounts of standing water, exposed electrical wires, or indicators of water damage to the ceiling, such as drooping, cracks, or peeling paint, should all be avoided.
It may be preferable to wait until the water has been pumped out before entering the basement if the water appears to be more than an inch deep. When entering the basement, be mindful that standing water may contain hazardous bacteria, so use caution and wear protective gear such as tall rain boots and gloves.
Try to Determine Why Your Basement Had Flooded
Your basement may have flooded for a variety of reasons. For example, if your basement is flooded due to a natural disaster such as a flood or strong downpour, it's better to wait until the storm has passed before beginning to dry out the area.
If your basement has flooded due to a burst pipe or a plumbing problem, though, it's critical to determine the cause of the flood as soon as possible. You'll be able to turn off the water supply and prevent future flooding. It's advisable to wait for an expert to discover the water source if you're not sure what caused the flood (but call them in fast.)
Get the Water Out of Your Basement
It's critical to start the basement water removal process once you've discovered the cause of the flood and made sure the basement is safe to enter. You may be able to pump water out of the basement on your own, depending on the volume of water.
To assist in draining the water from your flooded basement, consider utilizing a sump pump, buckets, or even a pool pump. You can mop up any residual water with mops, towels, or sponges after the majority of the water has been removed.
If the water is too deep for you or your family to safely remove, contact a basement waterproofing or water damage restoration professional in your area. They will be equipped to remove large amounts of water from your basement using the right tools and equipment and get the restoration process off to a good start.
It's critical to document the extent of the water damage to your basement for insurance purposes. Water damage caused by an unforeseen incident, such as a burst pipe, may be covered by standard homeowner's insurance policy.
However, a common house insurance myth is that your policy will cover flood damage. Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowner's insurance plans. Something called overland flood insurance is becoming more common - and popular - in Ontario, and we'll be taking a closer look at that in a moment.
Remove Water Damaged Items
You'll need to remove any water-damaged goods from the flooded basement after pumping out the excess water. If at all feasible, dry these items outside in the sun or in another well-ventilated area of your home.
If these items are still damp after 48 hours, it may be better to discard them. If they haven't completely dried off, they may be more prone to mold and mildew.
Consider ripping out any soaked carpet to allow the floorboards beneath to dry out. If you don't remove the carpet in a timely manner, your basement may be more susceptible to mould or bacteria growth. Do not touch any electronics in the flooded basement, including televisions, lighting, or gym equipment. To establish the extent of the damage to these things, contact an electrician.
Dry Things Out
If you have called in a water damage restoration pro, they will be your best guide as to the best way to dry out a flood basement, and they will also have the heavier duty equipment you need. If the flood was small, a washer overflow perhaps, you many be able to dry things out yourself using household fans. However, if you are trying the DIY route you'll need to ensure that everything gets REALLY dry, for reasons we'll explain next.
Basement Flooding and Mould
It's critical to inspect your basement for any signs of mould once it's been cleaned and dried. Muold, like germs, can cause health problems in your house if it isn't handled right away. If you ever decide to sell your Waterloo Region property, mold is often a deal breaker too.
Mould spores start forming 24 to 48 hours after a flood, so acting quickly is crucial. Dehumidifiers can help keep the humidity in your basement low, which can help prevent mould formation. If the weather isn't too hot or humid, you can open any egress windows or doors in your basement to let fresh air or sunlight in, which will help prevent mould growth.
However, hiring a professional to inspect your basement for symptoms of mould or bacteria growth may be the best way to keep your family safe. They'll be able to tell you whether mould has started to grow in your basement and what you should do next if cleanup is required. They can also advise on the best actions to take in the future to avoid problems.
Preventing Flooding in Your Waterloo Region Home
You can help safeguard your property from flooding by taking a few precautions. If your basement floods, you can use a battery-powered sump pump to help remove the extra water. While most sump pumps require electricity to function, having a battery-powered backup can help if your home's power goes out. You can also use a waterproofing product to prevent water from seeping through any cracks in the basement walls.
Installing flood sensors can help you detect floods as soon as they begin. That way, if a pipe in your home bursts, you'll know as soon as the flood starts. Other measures you might take to assist prevent future floods include automated shut-off valves and check valves. When a flood sensor is activated, an automated shutdown valve near the major water inlet in your home turns off the main water supply. Check valves are installed in the plumbing of your home to keep water from backing up into the drains.
Following a flooded basement, it's critical to make sure your home is in good condition and ready for future flooding. A basement waterproofing specialist can assist you in determining the best course of action for preventing future floods. Depending on the peculiarities of your property, they will know what precautions to take to adequately waterproof your basement.
A Word About Ontario Overland Flood Insurance
The 2013 Toronto flood woke a lot of people up to the fact that should their home flood their standard home insurance will probably not cover the damage, and to the fact that while Ontario's waterways are beautiful, they do pose a flood threat.
As a result, more and more Waterloo Region homeowners are sensibly investing in overland flood insurance. Overland flood insurance protects your Waterloo Region home in the event of a flood caused by an overflowing river, a torrential rainfall, landslides, snow runoff, and other sources of water that don’t originate from inside your home.
The most common cause of overland flooding in Ontario is overflowing rivers and bodies of water, but unpredictable weather has also earned its share of the blame, as was the case with the 2013 flood in Toronto, which was caused by heavy rains.
As climate change continues to make weather more unpredictable, it’s estimated that floods from rainfall, snow melt, and other weather phenomena will also become more common. It’s already started to happen, and it’s just a new fact of life in the province. So the extra couple of dollars spent on adding overland flood insurance to your home's coverage is money very well spent.
Do I Need to Tell Potential Homebuyers About a Past Basement Flood?
Something else homeowners often wonder after a serious flood is, should they ever come to sell their Waterloo Region home, are they mandated to reveal the event to potential buyers?
Under Ontario law, Patent defects, which are problems with a home that are plainly visible to the untrained eye during a property inspection, are distinguished from latent defects, which are problems that are not immediately visible or detected, even by an expert.
A wide, apparent fracture in a foundation wall, a broken staircase, or missing bathroom fixtures are just a few instances of patent defects. You are not compelled to disclose patent defects to potential homebuyers since they are visually apparent. It is their job to do a thorough inspection of the property.
Latent defects, on the other hand, are a different matter. As a seller, you have a legal obligation to report any known latent defects in your house that could make it dangerous or unfit for habitation.
A basement that floods during heavy rains, a structural fault with a wall, or a continuous mould outbreak are all examples of latent defects. If a seller is aware of a latent defect that renders the home dangerous or unfit for habitation but fails to disclose it, the buyer may sue the seller.
If your Waterloo Region home experienced a major flood event, but the issue has been completely remediated, the chances are that no, you would not be obligated to reveal anything. Howwever, if you have not, things get murkier, and you should consult with your real estate agent before making a decision. This is one of the reasons that working with a profesional to address basement flood damage (and having that extra insurance to ccover their costs) really is the best idea.
Getting ready to sell a Waterloo Region home, or buy a property in the KW area? Let Team Pinto use their huge local real estate experience and expertise to help you. Contact the award-winning Team Pinto here, or book a free Zoom consultation to discuss your unique Waterloo Region real estate needs here.