It’s spring again in Winnipeg, and you’ve just survived 6 months of bitter cold, endless snow, and frozen ground. As the temperature rises, you need to know how to protect your basement from flooding in the spring.

There are a few factors that you need to be aware of, which will dictate the possibilities of basement flooding.


How much snow did we get

By far, one of the more obvious ones, yet not necessarily the most important factor, is how much snow we got during the last 6 months. In the last few years, it has varied.

For example:

Year (Winter)Amount (Sept to April)
2016 – 2017131.4 cm
2017 – 201884.2 cm
2018 – 2019106.4 (to date as of March 3, 2019)

Obviously, more snow means more water when it melts. That brings us to the next factor, speed of melt.

Speed of melt

This spring, of 2019, we’re expecting to have an abrupt start to warmer temperatures. In a matter of a week, the temperature is supposed to change from -12 c to around zero.

The faster the temperature changes, the faster the snow melts. If we get a fast melt, we can expect a surge of high waters. This is opposed to a slow melt where the water melts at a slower pace, meaning less water is going into the waterways all at once.

Ground freeze

One of the biggest factors in flooding is how deep the ground is frozen. Colder winters will freeze the ground deeper. Snow cover will also affect how insulated the ground is.

This year in particular, the ground seems to have frozen deeper than normal. As well, with the forecasted abrupt start to spring and the higher amount of snow we’ve already had, there are predictions of high chances of flooding this year.

Spring rain

Even though the snow may have already melted, there is still a very plausible threat of flooding due to the ground being frozen. If the ground is frozen, the water cannot get saturated with it, and it needs to go somewhere.

Water, when it has nowhere to go, will go down the easiest path, and that is usually a path towards your foundation.

Preventing basement flooding

There are a few things you can do to prevent basement flooding. When too much water fills the sewer system, it can potentially flow back towards your house as the fixtures or drains are usually below the surcharge level.

Clean eavestroughs

The first thing you should do once it’s safe to do so, is clean your eavestroughs. They are designed to carry water away from your house, and if they’re blocked, the water will pour over the sides and fall down directly to your foundation.

Make sure to check for cracks and to keep the ends at least six feet away from the foundation.

Grade your yard

This is more of a larger project, obviously, but one that is of a lot of importance. If you have grass butting up to your foundation, check if it flows towards or away from your house. Sometimes, soil and grass seed can do the trick. If that is not enough, you may have to excavate and do a bit more work. If you have flower gardens, push the soil up against the foundation and grade it down away from the house. If you have any type of concrete or bricks, you may have to get them re-leveled.

Sump pump

First thing to do is to check that the discharge pipe is free of debris and not cracked or blocked with ice. Make sure the end of it is running onto somewhere where the water can be absorbed, such as your lawn.

The sump pump pit should be cleaned each year as sand or debris may sneak into the pit via the weeping tiles. Make sure to run a test that the pump is functional. You can do this by running some water into the pit until the pump turns on.

It’s also a good idea to remove and clean the pump at least once a year. Make sure to disconnect any power source before doing so. If you’re not comfortable doing it, call a professional Winnipeg plumber.

During major storms, electricity can cut out. In cases like this, your sump pump won’t run. You need a battery backup that will turn the sump pump on when the power goes down.

Depending on the model you choose, some sump pumps will have an audible alarm or a call to your phone to notify you when there is a power outage.

Backwater valves

To add even more protection, you can consider adding a backwater valve, which will prevent sewage water from backing up into your basement.

Inspect your sump pump

We all want to be prepared for the worst. When the forecasts are as high a risk as they are this year, getting a Winnipeg plumber to inspect your sump pump will guarantee that you avoid any basement flooding.

Install a sump pump

If you don’t have a sump pump currently, you should probably consider getting one installed. Not only will it save your basement, but it may even cheapen your insurance.

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