Toronto Mike

What are Torontonians doing about Basement Flooding?

It's a serious problem. Toronto’s  July 2013 flood is listed as Ontario’s most costly natural disaster to date  (with a $850 million price tag). Although serious, after a similar flood of  Union Station in 2012, some internet jokesters photoshopped something we Torontonians  could use to laugh  our way through cleanup.

Closer to Home

Still, there is no point crying over flooded stations any more  than over spilt milk. Besides, not only subway stations can be flooded. So can  homes, your home. Let's think about your personal castle and its foundations;  let's talk 'basement.' Here are the latest tips from Toronto's updated Noah  about how to keep your basement-ark safe and dry. Taking aboard two of every  kind of crawling, flying, and walking critters is optional.
 What causes basement flooding? Heavy rainfall and sudden  spring thaw causes built-up snow to melt rapidly.

What Can I Do To Keep My Home Safe And Dry?

  • Keep your basement drains clear.
  • Inspect your weeping tile system to ensure it is  not damaged, and properly draining stormwater below & away from the home’s  foundation.
  • Repair & clear leaking  and plugged eavestroughs & downspouts that don’t properly carry water  away from the house.
  • Make sure your lawn has a slope or tilt away  from your basement foundation walls.
  • Seal your basement windows.
  • Reroute downspouts so they don’t empty into the  sewer system. This downspout  disconnection is mandatory.
  • Make sure your eavestrough downspout empties at  last 1.8 metres/6 feet from your home.
  • Install soft-surface landscaping (e.g., shrubs,  porous paving).
  • Repair all cracks  or leaks in your basement foundation.
  • Ensure your connection to the city sewer system  has a backwater valve.
  • Don’t pour grease into your sink. (Pour bacon  grease etc. into a glass jar, and toss jar in the trash when full.)
  • Check with your home insurer to ensure that you  have adequate protection against flooding.
  • Work with your neighbours to prevent someone's broken  eavestroughs becoming someone else's flood.
  • Install and maintain a sump  pump used to pump water from weeping tile and/or basement drains.
  • Get a building permit when doing sewage repair  work to ensure that the work is done properly.

Cleaning Up

  • When you are cleaning up your basement and  standing on damp ground do NOT do any electrical work like changing fuses
  • Wear gloves, protective eyeglasses, rubber boots  and a mask
  • Open windows to let in fresh air
  • Dry furniture and carpets with an air-blow  heater or place them in the sun
  • Disinfect walls and floors using one part  chlorine bleach to ten parts water
  • Make sure the area is completely dried and aired  out before re-occupying it
  • To get help with repairing flood damage look  under the yellow pages under 'water damage restoration
  • Call your insurer immediately to report flood  damage and take photos to support your claims
  • For damage caused by the City, send an email to

City and Homeowners Working Together

Toronto's sewage system is designed to control most storms  but not severe ones that flood city streets and home basements. With climate  change storms are becoming more severe and frequent. Both the City and  homeowners need to take action to reduce the risk of basement flooding. The  City is constantly working to improve the sewage system in low-lying flood  prone areas. It also offers subsidies.


The City of Toronto offers owners of existing homes  financial subsidies to assist with the cost of installing certain basement  backup measures. A homeowner's best friend, other than Fido, is a backwater  valve that prevents sewage backup into the basement. To be eligible for the  subsidy a City licensed plumber must perform the work and a building permit is  needed. Your front lawn must be unpaved and the downspouts of your eavestroughs  must be disconnected from the sewage system. Call #311 or email for  more information.

Rainbow and the New World

Flooded streets and basements are part of the larger problem  of global warming. Certainly, we need to think globally and act locally. By  becoming more aware earth-citizens beginning with where we live we can recreate  our own covenant with the Earth. The future begins now, it's up to us.

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About Toronto Mike
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