April showers bring more than May flowers—they can also lead to flooded basements.

Laila Ismaili has lived in her home in Waterloo for 23 years. In May of 2017, she and her family had their first run-in with a wet basement.

“We came back from work with some groceries,” she remembers. “My husband came downstairs to put them away, when he did my husband saw about four inches of water on the floor.”

Having lived for so long without any issues, she says the experience was eye-opening. In the family’s basement, two feet of wall had to be cut out to make sure every crack was filled.

It was recommended that they sealed their windows. Two juniper trees next to their house were casualties because of their roots and their effects on the foundation.

“They also told us to keep our eaves clean for the rain water to drain properly. And then last year we decided to change our roof,” she says. “Instead of shingles we went for a metal roof so that it wouldn’t block the eaves.”

Altogether, she says the repairs cost about $7,000, plus the new roof which came in around $16,000. That’s not including resealing the windows, which served as an additional cost to the family.

Cheap, easy DIY projects can save you thousands

According to one industry professional, that’s a lot lower than the average household that experiences flooding.

“We noticed a lot of insurance levels were increasing every year, as well as the payouts that weren’t insurable,” explains Daniel Filippi, who works with the Intact Centre at the University of Waterloo. “A lot of people were paying out of their own pocket. We noticed the average cost for a flooded basement is $43,000.”

He says that there are cheap or free measures that homeowners can take to ensure they avoid that costly bill.

“Whether it’s extending their down spouts, cleaning out their eavestroughs, checking out their local neighbourhood storm drain and making sure that’s clear,” he lists. “There’s a lack of flood protection measures that homeowners are aware of, and it’s really getting that education out there so they can protect themselves.”

Who is at risk?

A report from his company that surveyed over 500 homes in southwestern Ontario found common flood risks in homes. They include:

  • Unsealed windows
  • Downspouts putting water right beside foundation
  • Grading
  • Pooling
  • Gaps and cracks around basement windows

The report also found that most people who experienced flooding, around 85 per cent, didn’t have back up sump pumps. About 71 per cent had furniture or electronics at risk in the event of flooding. About half of people weren’t maintaining their backwater valve or sump pump at all.

Todd Martin works for The Crack Specialists.

He says that awareness is key for homeowners, who need to understand what’s happening around their homes.

He echoes the sentiment that a little work can go a long way.

“Little things that can be done for not a lot of money, little DIY projects that can be done to prevent water problems,” Martin says.

He recommends cleaning eaves troughs and window wells and checking sump pumps a couple of times each year.