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Part 1: Preparing your home for heavy rainfall

Nobody wants to have to deal with the inconvenience and expense of water leakage and penetration into their home. Unfortunately, due to weather, flooding or structural damage, it is sometimes unavoidable. What can you do as a homeowner to prepare and educate yourself on how to manage the danger that water can pose to your home?

In this three-part blog post, we will explore some of the important aspects of protecting your home against water penetration, the types of damage that can occur when water does get into your home, and how to deal with water damage in the home.

What to do to prepare your home for heavy rainfall

If the weather reports are calling for a heavy rainfall in Ottawa, there are a few things you can do as a homeowner to prepare. The general principle to follow to avoid leaky basements and foundations is that you must direct water away from your home.

First, make sure all of your downspouts are correctly working, are not clogged, and are directing the water away from your home and not against your foundation. This is one of the simplest ways to ensure large amounts of water are not pooling against your structure and eroding the walls or seeping down into potential cracks.

You may be surprised to learn that eavestroughs are not required by code in Ottawa. Despite this, responsible homeowners know that they are essential for proper home drainage and to avoid water pooling against your foundation. Make sure when building a new home to arrange to have them installed.

Also, make sure that your eavestroughs are connected properly to your downspouts. While this may seem obvious, many causes of water penetration into the home are due to incorrectly connected eavestroughs and downspouts that are not directing the water away from the home.

Second, make sure your window wells are clear from obstruction. Clear out any leaves and sticks so that water can drain properly into your window well drain and not backup so that it starts to pool against your basement windows. If your window wells do not have a drain, contact a professional service to have them setup with a drain as this is essential for proper protection from water leakage.

Third, if your house has a sump pump, make sure it is functioning properly and that it has a battery backup in case of power loss. Your sump pump is useless if the power goes out and this will leave your house vulnerable to water damage. In extreme weather, the power is one of the first things to get cut out and you want to make sure your home will still be protected from water by powering your sump pump with a backup battery,

Your sump pump pipe should also be checked to make sure the exit point is not clogged and that water can travel freely to where it needs to be pumped out. In the winter and after storms, debris or freezing can occur and it is important to ensure water will exit the pipe and not flow back into your home.

What to do to prepare your home against water leakage

When assessing your property for proper drainage, make sure to consider the issue of grading. The ideal situation is to have proper grading away from your home so that water flows away and not towards your foundation. Negative grade is a situation where rainwater falls onto your property and is directed towards your structure due to the slope of your property. This is bad news as it will lead to eventual leakage into your basement.

Older houses used to have unfinished basements where water was often present and homeowners were not as concerned with the issue. Nowadays, with more knowledge about mold, and with more people wanting a proper living space in the basement, we want to avoid have a wet or leaking basement at all times. Proper grading is one key element to ensure this.

One of the other key elements to deal with water around your foundation is a weeping tile system and a waterproofing membrane wrap such as Platon. Let’s look at how these are essential elements for every home’s waterproofing and drainage system.

Part 2: Waterproofing your home

With today’s homeowners wanting to maximize living space, basements are no longer afterthoughts where we turn a blind eye to water leakage. Gone are the days of cold, wet basements used only for storage. Current home construction requires strong waterproofing and drainage materials to protect basements from the invasiveness of water.

The combination of a waterproofing membrane wrap and a weeping tile system is an excellent solution to protect your basement space from leakage and water penetration

What is a waterproofing membrane wrap?

A durable, dimpled membrane made of polyethylene, such as Platon wrap, helps to direct water away from your foundation and down to the weeping tile. Platon wrap is the black wrap you may have noticed around your foundation or around new homes under construction.

Platon wrap is not technically attached to your exterior wall like a tar spray system is. There is an air gap between your foundation and the wrap created by the dimples in the wrap itself.

The key to waterproofing membrane wrap is that this air gap collects any water that flows past the membrane and directs it down towards the footing drain and not the basement.  This way, water and moisture are not accumulating against your foundation wall and are instead directed vertically down towards a proper drainage path.

Wraps such as Platon also create a barrier between your foundation wall and the wet soil surrounding your home. This keeps your foundation walls dry and not full of the typical moisture than can accumulate on the walls due to heavy, wet soil.

Platon wraps also help to relieve a phenomenon known as hydrostatic pressure. When moisture builds up in your soil, the sheer weight of the soil increases and puts force against your foundation wall. Think of the increase in weight that comes with materials when they are soaking wet.

This much pressure will cause the water to seek release wherever there is a crack, or will be strong enough to cause cracks as well. A waterproofing membrane wrap therefore helps to relieve this hydrostatic pressure by moving the water down away from the foundation wall so the pressure doesn’t build up.

How does a weeping tile system work?

Moving water downwards with your waterproofing membrane so that it doesn’t sit against your foundation wall is great, but it would be ineffective without a drainage system to collect all of this water. A weeping tile system is necessary to collect the water and move it to the storm sewers on your street or to your sump pump.

This system works through the usage of a perforated pipe that collects water around your home’s foundation and moves it towards the street sewer or sump pump. This allows your home’s waterproofing system to obey the basic principle of waterproofing: move water away from your home.

Without a weeping tile system, water would sit next to your foundation with nowhere to go. The result would be that the accumulated water would slowly weaken your foundation, finding cracks to seep through and also creating unwanted hydrostatic pressure.

These are some of the important systems to have in place to deal with water around your property. However, sometimes homeowners find themselves in the unfortunate situation of dealing with water damage in the home despite their best efforts at waterproofing. Let’s look at how to deal with water that does find its way into your home, and some important steps to follow to help your restoration efforts.

Part 3: Dealing with water damage

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having water damage inside of your home or basement, there are several key steps to follow.

Electrical and water

The very first priority should be to shut off the electrical and water supply in your home. This will not only protect anyone working in the home, but also prevent further damage or accidents during the cleanup. This is especially true if water damage is due to pipes in the home that need to be shut off.

An electrical inspection is another key step to consider as heavy water damage can cause a safety hazard for anyone working in the flooded area. Basements are home to circuit boards, switches and exposed wiring that can be dangerous if in contact with water. Shut off the power in your home and contact a professional to inspect the damage to ensure it is safe to stay in the home.

Insurance and valuables

You may want to consider taking some photos of the damage for insurance purposes so that you have a record of the events before starting the cleanup process.

After taking photos, remove all valuables from your basement and the affected areas so avoid further damage to them. This will also help to clear room for the cleanup. Be sure to wear protective clothing when working in flooded areas to avoid slipping and exposure to contaminants.

Structural issues

A structural inspection should also be considered as water can weaken your foundation, your drywall and even the supporting beams in your home. A structural inspection can also help to identify the entry points of water if you do not already know them.

Likely, baseboards will need to be removed and the walls assessed for damage and to consider if they need to be replaced. Flooring such as carpet or hardwood may also be damaged.

Home restoration

Removing the accumulated water is also an important step. If it can be done with buckets on your own, this is one route. Likely, if it is a significant amount of water, you should consider contacting a professional restoration service for advice or help with the cleanup.

In the meantime, once your electrical is deemed safe, it is wise to run all the fans in your home along with dehumidifiers to help expel the moisture that has now entered your home. This is important as mold can start to grow once conditions in your home are damp and moisture heavy. Keep in mind that drying your home and belongings will take days and maybe weeks and not all items will be salvageable.

Ideally, if there is mold, it can be identified and removed prior to any reconstruction or basement renovations work that commences. This will avoid the hassle of having to go back and remove the damaged areas after you have started to restore your basement to its original condition.

Drinking water safety

Finally, if you are in an area with well water, consider water safety before drinking your water. If the surface flood water has entered your well, it can be contaminated and unsafe to drink. Boil your water and consider using bottled water while consulting your municipality about ground water conditions, or having your well inspected.

Contact Holland Homes and Renovations

Water is an element that must be managed by all homeowners at all times. During spring melting season, or during heavy rains, or even during winter when pipes can freeze, water can be a homeowner’s worst enemy. This is why it is important to learn about the essential ways to protect your foundation and manage the water that is threatening to leak inside.

If you are planning new home additions or renovation in Ottawa and have questions about grading, drainage or structural integrity, feel free to contact us at Holland Homes and Renovations to discuss how we can help.