Prevent Basement and Bathroom Leaks From Turning Into Floods
Between rainstorms, old house emergencies, and other things out of your control, it can seem impossible to prevent flooding emergencies in the home. The national average for plumbing disaster cleanup cost is $2,551. But costs can range from $400 up to $8,000 — yikes! Luckily, a little preventative maintenance and annual plumbing inspections can go a long way.
Basements and bathrooms are among the most common home areas for flooding. While some emergencies — such as excessive rainfall — just aren’t avoidable, there are plenty of steps you can take to help prevent leaks from turning into full-blown floods.
First of all, it’s important to be aware of common flooding culprits:
- Weather (rainfall, snow melt)
- Incorrect drainage slope
- Insufficient or clogged gutters
- Failed equipment (foundation drain, broken water main, etc.)
- Foundation cracks
- Failed sewer or septic pipe or pump
- Failed sump pump
- Tree root invasion
- Pipe collapse
- Clogs and line blockage (foundation drain, sewer pipes, etc.)
- Burst pipe or water heater
- Leaky roof
Basement Flooding 101
There are six easy steps you can take to help prevent basement flooding.
- Clear gutters of debris and position downspouts away from the foundation. The goal is to drain storm water at least three feet away, so it might be necessary to run extensions or troughs.
- Inspect the exterior foundation and your basement walls and floors. Use epoxy to fill foundation cracks and if warning signs are detected apply masonry seal indoors. For more serious problems, call a pro.
- Check to make sure your sump pump free of debris. If you have a portable pump, position it in the lowest part of the basement and be sure it’s connected to a power source.
- If you haven’t had your sewer inspected or your septic tank cleaned, spring is a good time to address these concerns. During periods of prolonged, heavy rainfall, clogged sewers and over-taxed septics are disasters waiting to happen.
- If you have below-grade basement windows, install window well covers that will fasten securely to your home’s foundation. Clear acrylic covers allow light to enter, even as they keep out rain, leaves, and pests.
- If you live in an area plagued with frequent storms and power outages, a backup generator may be a long-term investment worth considering to keep your sump pump running in the event of a power outage.
Bathroom Flooding 101
Nearly all toilet floods are caused by simple clogs, or a much bigger problem: sewage system blockage. The most obvious clue there’s a problem with the sewage system is the smell. Raw sewage is the worst, but even the gasses that result from a malfunctioning component create a foul odor.
It is surprisingly simple to protect a home’s sewer systems. Follow these steps:
- Protect the toilet.
- Pump the septic tank at recommended intervals.
- Cap any unused toilet connections.
- Consider plugs or a sewer sump pit setup with overhead pipes.
- Keep fats, oils and greases out of drains.
There’s no easy way to say it: toilet training is key to preventing sewer line backup. Nothing belongs in the toilet but water, human waste and biodegradable toilet paper. Any other items can form clogs in the lateral sewer line, the piece that runs between a home and the public sewer system. The same principle applies to septic systems. Check out this surprising list of things that people still flush!
- Sanitary wipes
- Nose and facial tissue
- Paper towels
- Feminine hygiene products
- Kids’ toys
- Small trash
- Dental floss
- Baby diapers
Schedule an Annual Inspection
A bathroom or basement flood is the last thing you want to deal with! Schedule a sewer line inspection, drain clearing, or sump pump installation with your trusted Benjamin Franklin plumber to keep your home safe. A bit of preventative maintenance can stop little leaks from turning into full-blown floods. Benjamin Franklin said it himself … an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!