For the last 15 years Toronto has experienced a number of major floods. Whereas before floods were a rare occurrence, unpredictable in their onslaught, nowadays they seem like an annual rite of passage, as predictable and inevitable as the first flowers of spring. Scientists and news outlets point to climate change as being the culprit, as the strange fluctuations in temperature cause major disruptions to the cycle of precipitation.
One thing is for certain: Toronto can expect more of the same in terms of floods. It’s imperative, therefore, that homeowners remain vigilant, and adapt to the weather’s new way of operating. This means preparing your house against storm damage.
In this article, we’ll look at a couple major floods that have occurred in the last 15 years, as well as what we as a city have learned from those floods about protecting our homes. We’ll discuss what you can do, as a homeowner: when to call us for help to keep your home, your family and your precious possessions safe.
Two Major Floods
Two of the biggest floods in recent memory were in 2007 in North York, and in 2013 in Etobicoke. During the first one, houses were flooded through the storm system. When the second flood rolled around in Etobicoke in 2013, basements were flooded through the sanitary drains.
In both cases, there was excessive amount of rain, and pipes were not capable of containing or managing all of the water. Pipes, especially those in older homes, can only manage so much water influx, and when they are overtaxed, unfortunately, they allow water into your home, causing damage to possessions both costly and priceless.
The City of Toronto, as well as its professional drain cleaning and plumbing experts learned a lot from these floods, and measures have been taken by both the City and us to ensure that homes in the future do not face the same scale of damage they did in past floods.
What Can Be Done?
Since those two major floods, the City of Toronto has implemented some steps toward preventing such massive damages. For example, they have mandated the disconnecting of downspouts from the sanitary drain, and they have made mandatory the installation of flood protection devices such as backwater valves and sump pumps. In this section, we’ll look at downspout disconnections – their advantages and drawbacks – as well as protection device installation.
First, let’s discuss about downspout disconnection – it’s sort of a technical term, and might be difficult for most homeowners to picture, so we think it deserves some explanation. After all, the City has made it mandatory. Basically, when you disconnect your downspout from the city sewer system, any excessive amount of rain to your downspout, rather than flooding into the sewer system and causing potentially destructive backups, will be routed away from the foundation of your house toward your lawns or landscaped areas. From there – so the thinking goes – it will be naturally distributed back in the water table.
This is beneficial for the city in a couple ways. Obviously, less water to the city sewer means their system will be able to manage what comes in, even during storms. Also, less wastewater makes its way to their treatment plant, and so fewer chemicals are used to clean it, which probably saves hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Downspout disconnection is good for the city, and to a certain extent it’s also good for homeowners, but it leaves a little to be desired. In our point of view, because most of the rainwater is discharged onto the ground’s surface, to penetrate the soil, it eventually raises the level of the underground water table. This creates foundational waterproofing issues for Toronto basements. Sure, the city system may not be overtaxed, but it sometimes comes at the expense of your own personal property. This is why, to do your part to prevent home damage, you need to be proactive about waterproofing.
So, let’s talk about flood protection devices – what tools do you have at your disposal to stem the flow (pun intended) of flooding in Toronto? There’s good news here: Mister Plumber’s expert flood protection in Toronto can help you protect your precious investment, and keep your family safe and comfortable in the event of the next big GTA flood.
A backwater valve is number one. If a city pipe is overflowing, it will cause a sewer backup to all the plumbing fixtures below street level. This issue, unfortunately, is beyond a homeowner’s control. But, in the case of a problem with your private drainpipe, it’s enough to stop using plumbing fixtures in the houses, and the situation will not worsen. The backwater valve is a device you can implement that stops back flow, therefore preventing any harmful sewage backup from the city side from making its way into your home.
To its credit, the City of Toronto definitely understands the need for backwater valves, which is why it has set up a helpful subsidy program for backwater valve installation. Toronto homeowners are eligible to get $1250 for valve installation, provided that a licensed contractor does the installation (sorry, they won’t let you hire your handyman cousin for the rebate!) As for information on sump pump installation, click here for a rundown of our services.
Of course, you know who happens to be a talented group of licensed plumbers, who maintain competitive, affordable rates and offer round-the-clock service? You guessed it: we here at Mister Plumber would love to help with your backwater valve installation. In the picture above, you can see a backwater valve installation we completed with a restoration of concrete near the front wall of a basement. It’s this kind of sturdy, quality work, with great attention to detail, that you get from Mister Plumber.
Do not bank on Toronto storms getting any better. There is a mountain of good science indicating that flooding, both globally and locally, will be, to put it aptly, on the rise. It’s wise for homeowners to treat floods as a new inevitability, and to take the necessary steps to waterproof their homes. Call Mister Plumber today for a professional plumber with years of experience in waterproofing homes.