Basement and overland flooding
Basement flooding happens when the City’s sewer system is overwhelmed by heavy rainfall and wastewater backs up through house sewer lines and flows into basements that aren't protected.
Overland flooding happens when there’s too much water around your home due to poor drainage, either from excess snowmelt, a nearby water main break or heavy rain, and it seeps into your home through the outside walls.
Is my home at risk?
Since 1977, the City of Winnipeg has spent more than $290 million improving the city's sewer system to protect against basement flooding. However, there is still a risk of basement and overland flooding no matter where you live in Winnipeg. The causes of basement and overland flooding, such as excess snowmelt, heavy rainfall and water main breaks, are unpredictable.
Homes that are not protected by a backwater valve or sump pit drainage system are at greater risk of basement flooding. If you can’t tell whether or not your home has a backwater valve or sump pit drainage system, a licensed plumber may be able to help you.
The year your home was built can also help you determine whether or not you have a backwater valve or sump pit drainage system:
- If your home was built after 1979, it was required by law to have a backwater valve installed.
- Homes built since 1990 are required to have a sump pit drainage system installed.
- Some older homes may have had backwater valves and sump pit drainage systems installed after construction.
How can I protect my home?
You can follow these steps to reduce the risk of basement and overland flooding:
- Arrange for a licensed plumber to install a backwater valve or a sump pit drainage system (includes a sump pit, a sump pump, and a pump discharge pipe) on a sewer line in the basement of your home.
- Check and maintain your backwater valve and sump pit drainage system regularly.
- Don't drain water from your sump pump into your floor drain. Not only is it illegal, it increases the risk of basement flooding for you and your neighbours. The sewer system is designed to manage only normal flows of wastewater, not sump pump water. Keep the end of the hose well away from your property line so that water does not flow onto the street, lane, boulevard, sidewalk, or your neighbour's property.
- Improve drainage around your house
- Clear snow away from your foundation to prevent snowmelt from seeping in through the walls.
- Don't throw garbage, grease or hazardous waste down your drains. Garbage that gets into your sewer through your drains can clog your sewer and cause sewer backup and grease hardens as it cools and sticks to the inner lining of sewer pipes, eventually causing a blockage.
- Don't put grass clipping, leaves, or other debris on the streets as they can plug the drains and prevent proper drainage, particularly during heavy rainfalls. Plugged drains cause water to build up on the street, increasing your risk of basement flooding.
- Prop appliances such as washers, dryers, and freezers off the floor by putting blocks of wood under them so they don't get damaged by water. It is common for backups to be less than a few inches of water.
- Don't store belongings in cardboard boxes on the floor in the basement. Store them on a shelf or in plastic totes.
Cleaning up after a flood
Residents who encounter overland or basement flooding should:
- Contact 311 to report the flooding
- Contact your home insurance company
- Clean-up using the recommended clean-up procedures from the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba and the Canadian Red Cross.
- If you believe that you have a claim against the City for bodily injury or damage to your property, you can file a claim