Every homeowner fears the worst: a flooded basement. Flooding can occur for many reasons. Is your basement at-risk of flooding? How can you stop a basement from flooding? Here are the answers to all your questions.

Basement Floods

Basement flooding is most common during heavy rains, flash floods, or rapid snowmelt in spring. However, it can also occur during dry conditions. Below are some possible causes of basement flooding.

Flooding in Wet Weather

  • Surface water flow: This scenario is what most people envision when they think about their basement flooding. Flash floods can occur when heavy rain causes water to flow down the street and into windowsills.
  • Excessive groundwater surrounding the foundation:Homes built with drainage systems are designed to protect against excess groundwater. The drainage system might not be sufficient if the water table rises. This could allow water to seep through cracks or holes in the foundation.
  • Sewer backup: A backup is when a sewer drain becomes blocked or overload during heavy rain. If the backup is higher than your basement level, wastewater could flow towards your home through your basement’s lowest drain. This may include a floor drain or shower, sink, toilet, or toilet.

Flooding in Dry Weather

  • Failed Sanitary lateral: A sanitary lateral connects your home’s plumbing with the main street sewer line. A sewage backup may occur if tree roots or items flushed down the toilet block your sanitary lateral. Your basement’s lowest drain can become blocked and your wastewater will flow up, causing a flood.
  • Plumbing system failure: Basements can become flooded from a burst pipe, corroded water heater, or other reasons. These failures can be caused by frozen pipes or a lack of maintenance.

How to Assess Your Chances of a Flooded Basement

Everybody lives in a flood area. It’s not a matter of risk level. Floods have been recorded in all 50 US states over the last five years. The areas most at risk of flooding are:

  • Central California
  • The Northern Great Plains Region
  • Southern Texas
  • The Mississippi River
  • The Great Lakes
  • The New England Area
  • Southern and Eastern Florida

How to Prevent a Flooded Basement

You should take extra precautions if you live in an area at high risk of flooding and have a basement.

Steps outside the House

  • Seal cracks and crevices in exterior walls, floors and windows.
  • Rainwater should be drained at least six feet from your exterior walls by downspouts.
  • Clear gutters and downspouts from leaves and other debris that hinder proper drainage of rainwater.
  • Examine the grading surrounding your home. To allow rainwater to drain naturally, the ground should slope away towards the foundation.
  • To absorb excess water, plant native shrubs and trees around your home.
  • To absorb water and melt snow, install porous pavement.
  • Check to see if your home was constructed with a weeping tiles system. As the foundation ages, repair or replace the perforated pipes around the perimeter.
  • Make sure that any shallow ditches around your property are kept clear of obstructions.

Steps inside the House

  • Make sure your water heater and plumbing are maintained at least once a year.
  • To prevent frozen pipes, set your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher.
  • Be aware of the condition and location of your sanitary liner. A professional should inspect your lateral every five to ten years.
  • Install a sump pumps in your basement. It should be maintained once a year.
  • Avoid clogging your plumbing system. It is important to not pour grease down the sink, or flush other items than tissue paper and human waste down your toilet.
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