Flood control tips from Oak Bay fire

Capt. Rob Kivell is Oak Bay Fire Department’s fire prevention officer

Before your rainy season or spring thaw begins, take these 10 steps to protect your home from water damage.

1. Fix leaks immediately. Leaky roofs and foundation cracks allow water to get into your home, which can weaken the structure and provide a perfect habitat for mold. When you see wet spots on the ceiling or cracks in the foundation, fix them as soon as it’s safe to get up on the roof or the material is dry enough to repair. Check that roofing shingles are secure.

2. Spring for extra roof protection. When it’s time to replace your roof, spend a few hundred dollars more to install a rubber roof underlayment, a waterproof barrier that goes under the shingles and protects the roof from water intrusion.

3. Close foundation cracks with mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement, which expands and fills gaps completely and costs only a few dollars. Don’t patch solely with mortar or cement, which may crack again. If water is a recurring problem, be sure to investigate other solutions for issues like wet basements.

4. Clear gutters and drains. Keep gutters and drainage systems clear to carry water away from your home. Check storm drains on your street, as leaves and debris can block them, causing water to collect.

5. Invest in a battery-powered sump pump. Sump pumps let you pump water out of your home and can be an excellent defense against flooding — unless they’re powered by electricity and the power is out. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive ($150-$400) solution.

6. Catalog possessions. Using a digital camcorder or camera, create a home inventory for insurance. Inexpensive digital cameras start at about $100. Although traditional video and photographs are adequate, they can be bulky to carry and may get damaged if left in a flooded home. Digital files can be stored on a small USB drive and kept in your go bag, sent to a friend or relative for safekeeping, or stored on an online backup system like idrive.com or opendrive.com, which offer a small amount of space to store files for free or a larger data storehouse for $50-$60 per year.

7. Move expensive items to a safer location. If you have a second floor or an attic, moving furniture, photographs, and artwork to a higher level will protect your possessions in all but the most severe floods. Elevate furnaces and water pumps when they’re installed, if possible, to a height of 12 inches above the highest known flood level for your area.

8. Anchor your fuel tanks. Unanchored tanks can float, rupture, and release fuel. Once the power sources of system units like furnaces and water heaters are disabled and the units cooled, you can also wrap them in waterproof tarps to mitigate water damage.

9. Prevent sewer backup. Install (or have a plumber install) sewer or septic line check valves, which allow waste to flow only one way. Plan to spend $100 or more per valve to have a pro install them, or do it yourself for $10-$15 each to ensure sewage can’t back up into the standing water in your home. Install at a point in the pipe that’s easy to access for repair.

10. Install French drains if you live on a slope and have a persistently wet basement or soggy lawn. A French drain collects water in your yard and diverts it safely away from your house.

Floods are a common challenge that many home owners will face at one time or another. However, by keeping your home in good repair, moving valuables out of water’s way, and creating good drainage around your home, you can stop or reduce potential flood damage.

For more information contact the Oak Bay Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division at 250-592-9121.

Capt. Rob Kivell is the Oak Bay Fire Department’s fire prevention officer.

Just Posted

Transport Canada announces funds for pollutant clean up in Victoria Park, removal of abandoned boats

Contaminants at Laurel Point Park will be removed starting at the end of September

Volunteers gather in Metchosin for B.C.’s 1st ever search and rescue joint training

Around 200 volunteers came out for the three-day training program

Seeing double, the trials and tribulations of twins

BIG READ: Three Vancouver Island mothers share their experiences with multiple births

First day of fall: what you can look forward to in Greater Victoria this season

Food, festivals, pumpkins and more are coming your way

Moon Lantern festival to light up Gordon Head

Saturday night festival celebrates harvest moon, fall season

United Way asks Victoria to share local love

2018 campaign aims to raise another $5M

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Most Read