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Toronto was just hit with some severe winter rainstorms. If you looked outside, it wasn’t pretty. For me, it’s a good opportunity to stay in and catch up on some emails (I get a lot of them) while I ride out the storm.
When the storm warning came, I took the time to check around the house to make sure I was ready for the projected water. Here are a few things to think about before we get our next storm warning.
What are the warning signs?
Sometimes our homes provide us a little clue that it’s got an issue with how it deals with water. Next time it rains, take a look at your property, and see how it drains the water. Do you see any big puddles pooling on your lawn? That’s a sign you’ve got issues with your grading or drainage. If you solve that, you’ll be much less likely to find water getting into your home.
How do you solve a grading issue? First, take photos of the area of the lawn where the puddles form. By the time you’re ready to fix it, those puddles will be long gone, and you’ll need the reference.
A professional landscaper should be your first call. I’d be hesitant to try and fix it yourself. Even small adjustments to your property (like a new garden), can throw the grading completely out of whack, and divert water in ways it shouldn’t. A landscaping pro will know where to disturb the soil so that it keeps water running away from your home.
Is the pump pumping?
Does your home have a sump pump? It’s a small device with a pretty big job – to pump water away from your home, where it can’t do any damage. Not every home will have one, but in areas with a lot of moisture or a high water table, they can save a homeowner from a big flood.
It requires some form of power to run, so in the case a storm knocks out the power, you’ll need some kind of battery backup. Your sump pump should also include an alert system, so that if it stops running suddenly, you’ll get a notification on your phone.
Most homeowners won’t know they have an issue with their sump pump until they notice water in their basements. If you know there’s a major storm coming, having a licensed plumber come check it’s working properly may be a good idea. Sump pumps don’t last forever – they’ll generally last about 10 years, so a plumber will be able to recommend if it’s time to replace the unit.
Preparing for the worst
What happens when conditions outside turn really nasty and the power goes out for hours – or longer? Do you risk travelling in dangerous weather or hunker down at home? Unless you’ve gotten the call to evacuate, I believe the safest thing you can do is stay home.
In this case, having a source of backup power at home when the lights go out is a matter of safety. Having the ability to keep the lights on, a heater working or a fridge running during a major outage can keep you safe and comfortable at home while you wait out the storm. A standby generator will detect a power outage and switch on automatically, meaning you don’t even have to leave the house to switch it on. If you have a portable unit, do not attempt to run it inside.
Generator or not, all homes should be equipped with an emergency kit. It will need to include flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, necessary medications, canned goods (and an opener) and bottled water that will last for at least three days. About once a year, you should do a check of your kit and replace any expired product.
If the power does go out, never try to use the oven to heat up the home. Attempting to heat your home with a gas oven runs the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Extreme storms don’t always have to bring extreme reactions to our homes. Plan it right, make sure you’re prepared, and you’ll be able to weather any storm.
To find out more about Mike Holmes, visit makeitright.ca.
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