Once upon a time, fires were the leading cause of personal property claims in Canada. Partly due to weather events, water damage is now the leading cause for home insurance claims, including flooding, sewer backup, leaky pipes, and other water-related risks. Unexpected events and accidents happen — and not all can be prevented — but there are some ways to reduce the risk or mitigate the damage to your home from water.

Considerations for the basement
As the lowest floor in the home, basements are a common area for water damage to occur and water incidents elsewhere in the home — if large enough — will affect the basement as well. Check for any large cracks in foundation walls or buckling drywall which can indicate shifting and allow water to seep into your home. Repair any large cracks or consult a contractor if you have concerns.

• Keep drains in the basement unobstructed and try to avoid storing items directly on the basement floor.
• After any heavy rainfall, check your basement for moisture. Many households don’t use the basement often, potentially leaving standing water unnoticed.
• If your basement has a sump pump, check it regularly to ensure that it’s working properly.

Outside considerations
• Keep storm sewer grates clear and landscape your property so that your lot is graded, directing water away from your home.
• Ensure that gutters remain clear and that all downspouts direct water at least six feet away from your home, preventing pooling near your home’s foundation.
• Before winter, drain all pipes or water hoses. If you have any pipes beneath your home in unheated crawl spaces, be sure to insulate these pipes properly.
• Check your roof regularly for signs of loose or curled shingles. Often this can be done from the ground or by looking at lower roofs through an upstairs window.

Inside considerations
• Consider adding sewer backup coverage to your homeowner’s insurance policy if you don’t have it already. Coverage for this risk is often an add-on for a standard homeowners insurance policy.
• Consider installing a sewer backup prevention valve.
• Water monitors can alert you if a leak occurs and even shut off the main water supply if moisture is detected.
• Inspect plumbing regularly for signs of leaks. Any leaks discovered should be repaired immediately.
• Install sturdy steel braided hoses for dishwashers, washing machines, or any appliances that use rubber hoses.
• Fats, oils, and grease poured down drains can cause clogs and overflows
• Retouch caulk and grout around tubs or showers regularly to prevent moisture seepage into floors and walls.
• Reduce your home water use during storms or heavy rainfall, allowing drainage systems the chance to evacuate water.