Prevent Basement Flooding and Sewer Backups with Utilities Kingston “Flood Facts”

Published on: 2021/03/02 - in Releases

RELEASE — Homeowners can take action to protect their properties this spring, with Utilities Kingston’s Flood Facts.

“If you have a basement, it’s at risk of flooding and sewer back-ups – even if it’s never flooded before. The risk is greater during spring rains and rapid snow melt. Now’s the time to be aware and take steps to protect your property,” says Jim Miller, Chief Operating Officer.

Lines coming from sump pumps and downspouts may be blocked with snow and ice, and water may be dammed up against foundation walls. Read the tips below to help prevent these common problems.

“We hope residents review the great information provided by Utilities Kingston, and take proactive measures to prepare their homes for heavy rains, rapid snow melt and flooding,” says Brandi Timpson, Emergency Preparedness Manager at the City of Kingston.

Basement flood prevention tips:

Install and check plumbing devices:

* Consider installing a sump pump system to remove excess water (make sure it drains only onto your lawn or into the storm sewer, in accordance with the City’s Sewer Use Bylaw).

* Already have a sump pump? Check it for proper operation and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. For example, you may wish to:

  • Confirm it’s plugged in and working properly.
  • Check for any frozen lines that need to be thawed.
  • Consider an extra length of hose to increase the distance at which it discharges away from your foundation.
  • Consider, if your sump pump drains to the surface, the discharge point may be buried under snow and ice. Uncover it and clear a path so the water drains away from your foundation.
  • Installing a backwater valve on the sanitary sewer lateral may help prevent sewer back-ups, if installed, operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Already have a backwater valve? If you can do so safely, you may wish to open the lid, clean it out, confirm there is a good seal in place and test its operation.

Ensure proper drainage:

* Clear snow away from your foundation, providing a path for water to follow the natural grade around your house.
* Make sure downspouts are properly connected, and clear of snow and ice. In most cases, they should drain over the lawn (in accordance with the City’s Sewer Use Bylaw), at least two metres away from your house. This helps reduce basement flooding in your neighbourhood. Shovel a path for the water to run well away from the foundation or consider an extra length of pipe.
* If you know that a catch basin on your street is covered in snow and ice, we’d appreciate if you could take some time to clear it. This will help make sure that snow melt and rainwater can drain off the street into the sewer system.

General tips:

* Reduce your water-use on rainy days. When it’s raining heavily the sewers may fill up. Using a lot of water during heavy rains (for example, taking a shower or doing laundry) can contribute to basement flooding and overflows to your environment. Consider using less water in extreme weather situations.
* Pick a rainy day to walk around your property and look for places where water is pooling or even getting into your home.
* Check your sewer lateral. Homeowners own the sewer pipe from the home’s plumbing system to the property line. This sewer lateral should be regularly maintained. Talk to a licensed plumber, who can carry out an assessment.
* Talk to your insurer. Homeowners have a legal duty to make reasonable efforts to guard against damage in the event of a flood.

Learn 18 Flood Facts to help protect your property at

Preventative Plumbing Program remains on hold due to COVID-19, but help is still here!

To help protect the health and safety of employees, and contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community, Utilities Kingston is suspending some programs and services, until further notice. This includes the Preventative Plumbing Program. Applications can be submitted, but action will not be taken at this time.

Be on the look-out for water pooling around your foundation, plumbing fixtures that are draining slowly, or a dampness along basement floors and foundation walls. These could indicate risk factors for basement flooding. Help is still available!

If you’re concerned about basement flooding or sewer back-ups, speak one-on-one with our flood prevention expert. Contact Utilities Kingston with any questions or concerns at or call 613-546-0000, between 8 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. You can count on us!

For 24-hour emergency assistance with an active sanitary sewer flood in your home, call Utilities Kingston at 613-546-1181. We will check the sanitary sewer collection system, ensure it’s working properly, and correct any issues we may find.

Release source: Utilities Kingston via City of Kingston
Photo: State Farm (cc)