Causes of Basement Flooding

Cleaning the gutters is a good flood-proofing strategy. When gutters are free of debris, it reduces the chances of a blocked gutter system and the terrible water damage clogs can create. Homeowners often overlook the fact that most of the time the water is dirty and might require special cleaning techniques to make the basement functional again. While overflowing gutters are one of the main causes of flooding, there are other reasons for water to invade a basement.

Improper Gutter Installation or Misalignment

In order to serve your home well, gutters need to be sized correctly and installed with proper techniques that take into account the gutter material, the roof configuration, an efficient number of downspouts, and the local climate. If the gutter system has never actually worked optimally or consistently overflows whenever it rains heavily, it might be an indication the gutters weren’t installed properly.

Another reason that could account for overflowing gutters resulting in a flooded basement is misalignment. At the time of the gutter installation, the gutters were sloped properly, allowing rainwater to flow easily to the gutter outlet and through the downspouts. However, over time the gutter sections shifted and now require re-aligning to fix them.

Downpipes too close to the Foundation

Downspouts should deposit water seven to 10 feet away from the foundation. Water allowed to pool underneath the downpipes and seep into the ground parallel to the exterior walls can be responsible for basement flooding. When dealing with a short downspout, add a splash block or a downspout extender to guide water further away from the foundation.

Home Irrigation Systems

If you have a built-in irrigation system, the underground pipes that ensure your landscaping is kept hydrated can spring leaks. What direction are the sprinkler heads facing? If they are facing toward the house and spraying water too close to the foundation, a basement might flood when the irrigation system is not calibrated correctly. Consult with a landscaping professional if water hits exterior walls and then slides downward or if there are damp patches on the lawn in between scheduled watering that might indicate leaking pipes.

Storm Sewer Backup

Pipes and drains that make up your storm sewer system can become blocked with twigs, branches, leaves, and other types of debris. When the water has nowhere to go, a backups occurs, allowing water to go where it’s not supposed to like in your basement. Most houses built after the mid-90s have built-in backwater valves. If you live in an older home, install one if you don’t have one already.

Failed Sump Pump

A sump pump removes accumulated moisture, rainwater, and groundwater from the basement, pulling it away from the home’s interior and directing it outside, depositing it safely away from the foundation. Many homes are built with sump pumps in the basement to prevent flooding. If your home doesn’t have one, get one installed; if you do have a sump pump, ensure it is in good working condition.

Burst Pipes

Water can flood a basement when pipes are clogged, start leaking, or become damaged or broken. Lower Mainland temperatures that are milder than what other parts of the province experience can lull us into forgetting that winter nights usually dip below 0°, putting uninsulated pipes in garages, attics, crawl spaces, and unheated basements at risk of bursting. To prevent leaking and burst pipes inspect them from time to time and insulate those ones that have no insulation.

Mechanical Malfunctions

All the appliances in your home, whether they run on electricity or gas, need to be properly maintained to keep them operating at their best. Mechanical malfunctions such as a faulty washing machine hose or a failing/leaking water heater might result in serious flooding.