Winter and Water Damage

Winter and Water Damage

Thomas Bernier

You’ve got enough to worry about when you’re operating a business. The last thing you want is to discover water pouring into your basement or seeping into your roof.

Water damage can be caused by several things, ranging from flooding to ice damming. Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the roof’s edge and can lead to melting snow leaking into a building, causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.

Floods are a considerable concern in the winter and spring. During the winter, most precipitation is stored as snow or ice on the ground, and once the weather warms in the spring or during sudden winter thaws, vast quantities of water are released. This is why it’s crucial to know what causes basement flooding and what steps you can take to mitigate the risks.

What can cause basement flooding?

There are typically two leading causes of basement flooding: drainage failure, which allows storm or groundwater to seep into the property, or a sewer backup.

The first scenario, drainage failure, can happen for several reasons. These reasons include:

Improper floor or wall sealing: If there’s improper sealing during the construction of your property, it can allow water to seep into your basement during heavy rainfall or snowfall.

Cracks in your floor or walls: Cracks are common in older properties and can easily allow water to enter your property.

Weeping tile failure: Many properties have a weeping tile system integrated into the foundation to help with underground water drainage. If that system fails, the chances of a flood increase significantly.

Sump pump failure: If you have a sump pump (used to collect and remove rain or groundwater that accumulates in the basement of a property) and it fails, the water could continue to build up, resulting in basement flooding.

Blocked or broken eavestroughs: Water that should be running off your roof could instead permeate downwards and flood your basement if your eavestroughs are broken.

The second reason for flooding is sewer backup. A sewer backup can occur for a variety of reasons:

Clogs: Sewer backups are most commonly caused by clogs. Generally, if only one toilet or sink is affected, the clog is inside that drain, but if there’s a backup every time you flush or use any sink, the clog is likely in your main sewer line.

Tree roots: Damage to pipes or holes in pipes can be caused by tree roots. The tree roots may have grown into the lines, wrapped themselves around them, and crushed them.

Broken or collapsed pipes: Nowadays, plastic pipes are the industry standard, but older homes may have cast iron piping and are especially at risk of damaged or collapsed pipes (especially in the winter).

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your building to help ensure that you don’t experience any flooding or water damage this season.

What can you do to help prevent water damage?

Protection against water damage can occur inside and outside your property. Let’s start with what you can do outside:

Seal off your building: Cracks in walls, windows, floors, and foundations can let water in, so waterproofing sealant should be applied as needed.

Snow removal is the name of the game: Clear away snow from around your building’s foundation (especially near window wells), so you can better protect your building against the water that melts when it melts. You’ll also clear excess snow off your roof so it doesn’t melt and drip near your foundation. Hiring a professional service for this task may be dangerous, but they can clear your eavestroughs too!

Don’t forget about your roof: Ice dams on the roof can melt and cause water damage, too. It’s a good idea to install an ice and water shield membrane under the roof, covering at least six feet from the eavestroughs line.

Landscaping is critical: To divert water from the building, landscaping plays a vital role. But it must be done before the winter. That way, when the water starts to flow in the spring, it’s away from your building’s foundation.

Clear catch basins: To facilitate drainage, snow, ice, and debris should be removed from catch basins, as they can build up during the winter.

Don’t forget about your downspouts: Clearing out downspouts, just like you did your catch basins, is a good idea. Downspouts should also extend at least two meters away from your foundation.

And last but not least, a pump: If you’re still finding water pooling near your foundation, it might be a good idea to rent a pump and drain it into a gutter.

After you’ve worked to protect the outside of your building from flooding, you may think, “what can I do inside my building to protect against flooding?” Here are some tips:

Seal off the inside, too: Just like you did with the outside, it’s essential to ensure that cracks in the walls inside the house are fixed.

Remember to check upstairs: To mitigate the risk of ice dams, inspect your roof to ensure the attic is well-ventilated. Also, check that the attic is adequately insulated to minimize the heat rising from the house, potentially causing snow to melt. Refer to our winter roof inspection guide for more helpful information.

Check your plumbing system: Be sure to have your plumbing system checked to ensure it’s in proper working order. Consulting a professional is recommended. During the winter, if you’re away for more than three days, drain the plumbing system or arrange to have someone come in daily and check that your heat is still on.

Keep your pipes clear: To prevent backups from happening in the first place, try to keep your pipes clear. That means no flushing trash down the toilet or pouring any fats or oil down the drain.

Consider getting a backwater valve or sump pump: While these solutions are more time-consuming and costly, if you’re having trouble with flooding, they may be well worth it. Sump pumps collect water that accumulates around your business, while backwater valves can prevent sewers from backing up into your basement.

Be ready for a power outage: There’s no point in having a sump pump if you have no way of keeping it running when the power goes out. Consider getting a backup power source for those winter blackouts.

By implementing some of these essential tips, you can rest easy knowing you’ve done what you can to protect your business. Visit our blog to learn more about how you can help mitigate your business’s risks.