Home Inspection Articles

Water, Water Everywhere: Important Maintenance for Wet Basements

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Aug 2, 2013 10:14:00 AM
floodingInarguably, the summer of 2013 has been a wet one. While our seemingly endless downpours make for happy ducks, the same cannot be said for houses. The extreme storms witnessed this season have left many with wet basements, and worse. Although we have discussed several preventative measures homeowners can take to ensure they are prepared for the next bout of heavy rainfalls, there are some items that are beyond control.

Many of the areas more dramatically affected by this summer’s storms were neighborhoods where the sewer systems became overloaded, taxed beyond their capacity. When this happens, excess water from the sewers has no choice but to fill up the pipes connecting the sewers under the street to the drains in the house. The result is a backup into the basement, causing either minor or major flooding – depending on the volume of the overload. This transforms into a more complex problem when storm sewers are shared with sanitary sewers: the water that  backs up through the drains contains not only rain water, but waste products, which presents serious health concerns.

If your home suffered any recent water damage, please consider the following systems and components and have them inspected properly:

1. The Interior

Basement may have water-damaged wall and floor finishes. Beyond the cosmetic issues, the potential for mold growth makes these areas a health concern.

2. The Heating Systems & Water Heater

Many heating systems and water heaters contain important components that are located close to the floor. For most furnaces, the blower fan and motor are in the bottom of the cabinet and the electronic controls are often located there as well. In addition, most boiler systems and water heaters actually have the burner very close to the floor. If any of these pieces of equipment suffer water damage, they should be inspected by a licensed technician, even if they are functioning, as their safety and effectiveness may have been compromised.

3. The Plumbing System

If the home experienced water damage as a result of sewer backup, the main drain pipe, which is responsible for carrying all of the sanitary waste from the home, may be clogged with debris. In this situation, getting a video scan of the sewer system will help to identify any blockages.

4. The Electrical System

Most receptacles are located within 12 inches of the floor. Basement flooding that exceeded this height will have rendered these electrical components unsafe to use. If your basement experienced this level of water intrusion, parts of the home's electrical systems will need to be replaced.

5. The Insulation

If there is damage to the wall finishes, there is potential for mold growth in the insulation, which will need to be replaced. Even if there is no mold, some types will lose their insulating properties and will not recover from being wet.

We've referenced some of the major interior systems that may be affected during times of heavy rain and flooding. It is also critical to focus on the exterior of your home to help prevent future damage. To learn more about exterior maintenance, please click here.  

If your home experiences a flood, it is important to contact your insurance company to determine what coverage your policy provides - especially in light of recent claims data. To learn more about this issue, please click here

In addition, the City of Toronto has implemented a new program to help homeowners protect themselves against basement flooding. To learn more about the grants that may be available to you, please click here

Topics: Home Inspection, Water Damage, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips