Don’t row a boat in your basement

When it comes to protecting your home from water and sewer damage, responding to an issue after it happens can be messy, time consuming and costly. Instead, it is better to be proactive in predicting what issues could occur, because liquids will always follow the path of least resistance.

Basement flooding from ground water

If you live in an area that has high water tables, near a body of water, or located in a low spot, your basement has the potential to take on water. This can be a result of snow melting quickly, heavy periods of rain over long durations, improper drainage systems, or blockages formed in the ground water drainage. Options to prevent ground water from getting into your basement include:

  • Install a sump pump with a battery backup, an alarm and possibly a secondary sump pump. The sump pump system should be regularly checked to ensure the float isn’t sticking, the battery hasn’t lost its charge and the alarm is operational
  • Inspect and repair foundation cracks to prevent seepage
  • Properly landscape your yard so that water will flow away from the house. This will prevent a buildup of water around the foundation of your home. Also, if you have a weeping bed, make sure you don’t have trees growing near the drainage route, as roots will disrupt the ability for the weeping bed to do its job
  • Clean out gutters and maintain downspouts to prevent pooling of water around your foundation. Downspouts should be directed at least 3 feet out from the foundation
  • If you have below grade windows, consider installing window well covers to protect from rainfall accumulating in the window wells

Sewer and drain line backups

Some sewer and drain blockages can be unpredictable or unexpected – your 2 year old flushing toys down the toilet, a buildup of hair in the shower drain, or a frozen drain line, but many can be prevented through maintenance and planning.

  • Avoid planting trees near the sewer line. Tree roots are often a culprit or part of the cause for sewer issues, especially if you have a clay sewer line.
  • Don’t put anything that isn’t biodegradable down your sewer line. Grease, wet wipes, tampons, and rags are all examples of things that get flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain that either assist in adding build up to sewer lines or get snagged on the build up
  • If a cold snap is expected, a way to prevent a frozen drain line is to have a constant flow of water through the drain – it doesn’t have to be a lot of water, but a steady, consistent flowrate
  • Perform regular maintenance on your drain lines. Whether this is running a camera out your sewer line on a semi-regular basis or pouring drain treatment when your drains start to slow, there are options to stay on top of your sewer maintenance
  • If you have a septic tank, make sure you have it pumper regularly
  • If you are told you have an issue with roots, start budgeting for a sewer replacement. Roots will become a reoccurring issue for you, as there is a crack(s) in your sewer line allowing for them to get in. The only way to permanently stop roots is to replace the line
  • If you have a backup, call a professional. They have the proper tools to get the job done

These steps won’t prevent 100% of the potential sewer and water damage, but they will save you more times than you know. Be sure to know what your insurance covers in flooding and backups in case something happens.

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