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I was driving through the city last week, and suddenly it hit me – I could actually see over the snowbanks! And in most spots, the sight-blocking piles of snow had melted away altogether. It’s a welcome sign of spring, especially after a winter that broke records here in Ottawa (almost 102cm of snow fell in January alone!). But those signs of spring and warmer weather also signal the start of something a lot less exciting: flood season.

With so much snow falling and melting so quickly, it’s not just homeowners and cottage dwellers close to rivers and lakes who need to be concerned about their basements. Water that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation is the most common cause of damage as the snow begins to melt.

Follow these tips to give your home the best chance of coming out of the flood season unscathed.

Tip #1 to Prevent Spring Water Damage: Shovel the snow

Yes, even the snow that’s not in your driveway. The closer snow is to your home, the more likely it is that it will melt and form pools of water around the house. Before the warmer weather hits, shovel the snow away from the foundation and give your home at least 3-5 feet of clearance.

Tip #2 to Prevent Spring Water Damage: Extend Drain pipes

Clear away any leaves that may have gathered in gutters and drain pipes that can cause rain water or melting snow to get blocked and pool. If water pools, it can easily seep into attics, walls, or foundations. You’ll also want to make sure you have extensions on the drain pipes long enough to drain the water at least 3 feet from the house.

Tip #3 to Prevent Spring Water Damage: Cover Window Wells

Make sure any window wells are well covered (no pun intended!). As the snow melts, this will prevent any water from pooling against windows and saturating the ground immediately next to the home.

Tip #4 to Prevent Spring Water Damage: Pre-planning

There are some things you can do before the snow even starts to fall to help prevent water damage from occurring during the spring thaw. If possible, grade your landscape so water drains away from the home instead of towards it. You can also install sump pumps to help send water away from the home.

Tip #5 to Prevent Spring Water Damage: Protect Valuables

If you do live in an area prone to flooding, or have a lot of snow sitting on your property, it is a good idea to move any valuables you may have out of your basement and onto higher ground. This way should any flooding or water leaks occur, you’ll know your sentimental pieces will be safe from damage.

For more information on flooding in Ottawa and more tips on how to protect your home this spring, take a look at the City of Ottawa website.