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How to prepare your home for spring flooding and water damage

Springtime is here, and with it comes blooming flowers and crisp, fresh air. But as spring showers pour, Canadians are at risk for more damage than rained-out picnics – we’re also at risk for property flooding and water damage.

When it comes to protecting your property, flooding and water damage are typically afterthoughts – if you even think about them at all. However, water damage to property can be expensive and frustrating, harming not only the home, but also possessions and the wellbeing of the people inside. Like most unforeseen events, it’s not until water damage actually happens that you realize it pays to plan ahead. 

The following tips will teach you how to prevent water damage and how to deal with it if it happens to you. 

How to prevent spring flooding and water damage

1. Inspect your roof

To prevent leaks, get your roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles. If you don’t already have one, you should consider installing a downspout extension that can prevent leaks into your basement.

2. Keep gutters, eaves troughs, and window wells free of debris

Clear out your gutters and eaves troughs to prevent blockages. Be sure to get rid of any garbage or leaves in your window wells so that accumulated water can drain properly. 

3. Watch those pipes

To maintain the integrity of your pipes, avoid pouring grease, fats and oils down the drain.

You should also check your shut-off valves every six months to ensure that they are in working order and that you know where your main shut-off valve is located.

4. Check walls and foundation

This is especially important as the ice melts. Keep snow away from foundation walls and basement windows. Seal any cracks to prevent leaks. Make sure that your property has proper grading so that water drains away from your home. If you do notice water pooling, find a way to lead the liquid away. Talk to a professional – this kind of work can often be a bigger job than it appears.

5. Keep an eye on your basement

Keep valuables away from the floor or in plastic to save them from general basement moisture and flooding. If your basement has a sump pump, take the time to periodically examine it and do a test run, especially if it doesn’t get used frequently. Consider installing a back-water valve that will close automatically in the event of a sewer back-up, which could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your home and belongings. If you are currently working on finishing your basement, make sure to seal your exterior walls for added prevention.

6. Review your home insurance policy

Many insurance companies offer additional overland water and sewer back-up coverage for eligible customers, depending on where you live. Check with your insurance broker to discuss what flooding and water damage coverage is best for your needs.

How to deal with water damage

Despite taking precautions, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. In those cases, all you can do is act quickly to try to minimize the risk of damage and potentially prevent further damage from occurring. 

While it’s important to notify your insurance provider as soon as possible, there are a few preliminary actions you can take before your insurance adjuster arrives:

1. Safety first

Make sure the affected area is safe to enter. If your basement is flooded, don’t walk into the water until the power has been shut off. Motors from appliances on the floor can send an electric current through the water.

Watch for weakened structures such as ceilings and walls, contaminated water, and any potential for electric shock. Don’t do anything you are unsure of or that will put you at risk for injury.

2. Shut off interior power sources

If necessary, turn off your home’s electricity, natural gas supply, furnace or air conditioner as well as your water main, and stay away from electrical equipment. Know the location of your breaker panel and important numbers to call if you need assistance.

3. Protect your belongings

If the affected area is safe to enter, move as much of your furniture and belongings as possible to a dry area. 

4. Document any damage

Take photos of the damage caused by the flooding – include pictures of the water’s entry point. Make a list of all damaged property and note which belongings are permanently damaged and unusable. Hang on to any damaged property so that claims adjusters may inspect it before having it removed.

5. Safe Cleanup

Wear gloves and dress appropriately – the water may be contaminated by sewer back-up.

Remember, prevention is the best first step. Call your OTIP insurance broker today at 1-866-561-5559 to ensure that you have the coverage required to protect you, your home, and your belongings from flooding and water damage.


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