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Get ready for the Spring thaw

February 25th, 2021  |  Home Insurance

It may not feel like it now, but in only a few months we’ll be experiencing the spring thaw.

Spring floods – many severe – are in the news every year. Are you prepared?

Protecting the quality of your home, especially during spring runoff in a heavy-snowfall region, requires a bit of foresight and now is a good time to make your list and look after some maintenance. It’s vitally important to help water drain away from your home.

Here are some tips from the Insurance Bureau of Canada to help prepare your home for spring thaw and prevent water damage:

  • Inspect the grounds.Check to see if driveways, sidewalks, decks, around your basement, and patios have the appropriate grading to direct water away from your home. Ensure decks, for example, have not settled over time and are now directing water toward your house – a recipe for future water problems.
  • Clear snow away from the foundation. If the ground is sloped one inch per foot near your home, move snow three to five feet away to help minimize flood problems.
  • Pile the snow in safe places. When you are shoveling your driveway, take necessary steps to remove snow away from the home’s foundation and windows. Neglecting to do so could cause flooding and damage.
  • Check your eaves and downspouts.Make sure downspouts extend at least six feet from your basement wall. Water should drain away from your home and neighbouring homes toward the street, backyard, or back lane. Check that the floor drains in your home are unobstructed as well.
  • Help water drain properly. Remove all debris from your downspouts and gutters so water can drain. It’s also beneficial to clean debris from the catch basins so that water can drain into the sewer – whether there is snow or not.
  • Keep water out of your window wells. Why? You don’t want it leaking into your basement through the windows or through cracks in the foundation.
  • Protect valuables that could be compromised by flooding. If you keep valuable items in the basement, move them from the floor during major thaws so they won’t be damaged in case of flooding or leakage.
  • Check that your sump pump is working.A functioning sump pump can prevent flooding so be sure to check that it is in working order. Consider adding back-up battery power so that your sump pump continues to work in the event of an electricity outage. If you live in an area prone to flooding and you don't have a sump pump, it is a wise investment.
  • Consider installing backflow valves.In the event of a main sewer backup, backflow valves will automatically close to prevent water and sewage from entering your home through the floor drain, for example.
  • Install water alarm and flood sensors. If your home is prone to flooding, these devices are designed to send an alert when they detect unwanted water inside.

Home insurance can cover you in case there is damage to your home during the spring thaw. But there are different types of water coverage and not all policies include them. In general, they are:

Sewer backup coverage protects against water damage caused by the backup or escape of water or sewage from a sewer, septic system, or sump pump.

Overland water coverage protects against damage caused by water entering your property due to the overflow of any body of fresh water - such as lakes and rivers - or the sudden accumulation or run-off of surface waters, including torrential rainfall or spring thaw. This is one of the most frequent and natural hazards in Canada. Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding, especially in the spring, when the ground is still frozen or already saturated from previous storms.

Groundwater protection is an optional coverage for some homeowner’s policies that offers protection for events when groundwater enters your home suddenly and accidentally through basement walls, foundation, or floors.

Bottom line? It’s important to review your policy and talk to your broker to be sure the coverage fits your needs before something happens.

RELATED READING:6 areas to check when waterproofing your home

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