3 Ways to Protect Your Home from Spring Flooding in Alberta
Flooding can occur at any time of year in Alberta but is particularly common during the spring and early summer. Floods can be caused by heavy rain, rapid snowmelt, ice jams and dam failures—or a combination of these factors. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to protect your home from spring flooding by:
- Evaluating your flood risk.
- Performing basic home maintenance.
- Investing in flood mitigation measures.
We encourage you to discuss flood insurance (often known as overland water insurance) and sewer backup insurance with your broker. While not available everywhere, this coverage can help you rebuild after a flood event as well as cover additional expenses if you’re forced from your home due to flooding.
Evaluating Your Flood Risk in Alberta
The first step to protecting your home from spring flooding in Alberta is understanding your level of risk. This can help guide your mitigation measures and prepare for the likelihood of a flood event.
The Government of Alberta has invested in flood mapping of the province. The City of Calgary also offers an excellent flood mapping resource for homes in Calgary. There are studies and unofficial flood risk maps available online as well.
There is never zero risk for flooding—even if you live on a hill nowhere near a river, an intense amount of rainfall, rapid snowmelt and/or poor drainage could result in localized flooding. That’s why it’s important to protect your home from flooding regardless of where you live. Everyone can do the basics!
Performing Basic Home Maintenance
Luckily, there is basic home maintenance that you can do to protect your home from spring floods in Alberta:
- Keep snow away from your home’s foundation.
- Fill in any cracks or holes in your foundation or concrete around your home.
- Check weather stripping on windows and doors and re-seal as necessary.
- Keep eavestroughs clean and clear of any debris.
- Ensure downspouts (and other drainage pipes) are draining at least three metres from your home, preferably onto a grassy area.
- Apply sealant to exterior features to help waterproof them.
- Keep storm drains clear of debris.
- Ensure your weeping tile and foundation drain are in good repair.
- Clean out your window wells.
- Be careful what you store in the basement—try to keep everything up higher and packed in sealable plastic containers.
Although simple, these maintenance items can help prevent water damage to your home and belongings.
Investing in Flood Mitigation Measures
If you have the funds and want to increase the protection of your home from spring flooding, there are a number of ways you can invest in flood mitigation measures:
- If you have windows at or near ground level, you should have window wells installed with rocks three to six inches below the bottom of the window.
- Transparent window well covers can help prevent water and snow from piling up within the window well while still allowing light into the basement.
- Install a water alarm to quickly alert you to the presence of water.
- Use rain barrels to help collect water—this is also great for the environment!
- The grade of your yard should slope away from your home (so water will drain away from the foundation). You may need to regrade your property if water pools anywhere or drains towards your home. ‘
- Install backflow valves to prevent sewer backup damage.
- Install a sump pump (we recommend having a backup generator or battery in the event the power goes out).
- Proper landscaping with plants can prevent soil erosion and help soak up water.
- Have sandbags prepared for deployment if the risk is high.
Some flood mitigation measures will even result in discounts on your home insurance premiums!
Flood Insurance Coverage in Alberta
Many home insurance companies are now offering coverage for flood events—this can help cover repairs or rebuilding after a flood as well as provide for additional living expenses if you’re forced from your home due to a mandatory evacuation order or flood-related covered claim. It is often packaged with sewer backup coverage.
Not all homes are eligible for flood coverage, but you should discuss your options with your broker. They’re also a great resource for flood risk mitigation tips.