Home Value Tips: Flood-proofing Your Basement

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TORONTO – There are few things more off-putting to a potential home buyer than signs of previous basement flooding, so it is important to know how to flood-proof a basement.

With flooding sometimes an issue after heavy rains, the City of Toronto regularly draws attention to its Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program for homeowners looking to invest in floodproofing technologies for their basements.

To flood-proof a basement effectively, there are three major steps to take. Each step can be partially subsidized by the City, and all play an important role in keeping your foundations dry, while helping to manage levels in your municipality’s sewer systems.

1. Disconnecting your “Weeping Tile” from the municipal sewer system.

Located underground within the basement foundation of your home, a “weeping tile” – also called a foundation drain – is not to be confused with the tiles in your kitchen. These are actually circular pipes that take in the water from your foundation walls and deposit it in the sewer system, if connected.

If you disconnect the weeping tile from the sewer system, you will have to find somewhere for the foundation water to go, and a “sump pump” is the safest bet. You’ll also need to disconnect your weeping tiles before you can think about installing a backwater valve.

2. Installing or Replacing your Sump Pump

A sump pump is always found within or adjacent to a “sump pit” – a specially constructed reservoir, typically located at the lowest point of your basement or crawl space. After the pit takes on enough water from the foundation drains, a pressure sensor or float activator is tripped, and that water is them pumped and transported well away from the foundation before being released.

In addition to installation of a brand-new sump pump, the City of Toronto’s subsidy program also offers a number of services for homeowners who already have one. These include replacement of the existing pump or the installation of either an alarm or a backup power supply. (Remember: your foundation will take on the most water during storms, so providing it with working backup power is vital.)

3. Installing a backwater valve

A backwater valve is installed within your basement’s internal plumbing, with the chief goal of preventing water from seeping up through floor drains. A flap within the valve will stay open regularly, allowing water to exit your home after regular use. However, in events of heavy rainfall resulting in water flow into your basement, the flap will close and prevent any flooding through the floor drains.

Do I need to hire professionals for these basement floodproofing projects?

Even if you consider yourself adept at home renovations and upgrades, the City of Toronto strongly recommends hiring a professional to help flood-proof a basement. In fact, if you do not use the professional contractors officially licensed by the City of Toronto, you will not qualify for rebates under the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program.

With the exception of backwater valves – which do not necessarily require a professional contractor – all three of the projects listed above will generally require the services of:

  • A plumbing contractor and/or plumbing and heating contractor
  • A drain contractor
  • A building renovator

When looking into a contractor, the City recommends obtaining multiple quotes and references for each role that will be required.


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