Prevention: Basement floods are on the rise, don't let your basement be next. Together we can stop heavy rainfall, melting snow and runoff from ending up in your basement. At the City, we're doing our part by continually updating and maintaining Toronto's complex underground pipes, sewers and catch basins.

Now it's your turn:

Tips to help you flood-proof your home:

  • Seal cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations.
  • Ensure the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation wall.
  • Hire a professional to install a backwater valve and properly-sized sump pump. Once installed, ensure they are regularly inspected and well maintained.
    • The City offers a financial subsidy. For information go to: toronto.ca/basementflooding and look under Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program
  • Disconnect your downspout(s) from the sewer system, where feasible. Make sure they discharge two metres (61/2 feet) from foundation walls. Clear eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and other debris.
  • Keep debris such as leaves and other garden waste off of roadside catchbasins (the square sewer grates on the road) to help water enter the storm sewer.

For more information on flood-proofing your home.

What to do if your basement floods:

  • Call 311 immediately to report basement flooding. During extreme weather conditions residents can expect high call volumes. Calls will be answered by the first available agent.
  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report property damage caused by flooding.
  • Do not enter a flooded basement as you may be exposed to sewage or come in contact with water and electricity.
  • Be mindful of your health and safety when cleaning up a flooded basement - do not stand in flood water, call a professional for assistance.
  • Items damaged by flooding, such as mattresses, furniture and carpets (tied in rolls measuring 1.2m (4') in length, each roll weighing no more than 20kg or 44 lbs.) should be set out for collection on your regular garbage day.  Drywall, renovation waste and construction material should be taken to a Drop-Off Depot.
  • Overflow garbage (in bags) can be left beside the Garbage Bin if residents attach a City-issued garbage tag to each bag.  Garbage tags can be purchased at Toronto Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart stores or online through the Solid Waste Management Services Store.

Tips to help you clean up your flooded basement:

  • Consider hiring a professional cleaning company familiar with cleaning sewage contaminated basements.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
  • Dress appropriately - wear overalls, gloves, protective eyeglasses, rubber boots and a mask.
  • Open windows to let fresh air in.
  • Stay away from electrical equipment. Have a qualified electrician assess the situation, if uncertain of potential electrical hazards.
  • If you can, shut off the electrical power. (Note: would affect the operation of a sump pump or sewage ejector).
  • Water could extinguish a pilot light on a gas appliance. If you detect gas, leave the house immediately and contact the gas company.
  • Minor debris can be put out for regular garbage pick-up (See your Garbage and Recycling Collection Calendar for information).
  • Discard all contaminated items that cannot be washed and disinfected, (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, plush toys, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Wash all surfaces with hot water and liquid detergent, rinse and thoroughly dry and ventilate the area. Use de-humidifier and fans if necessary.
  • Sanitize walls and floors using a solution of household bleach (mix 1 cup bleach with 5 gallons of water). Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products. For more details, visit the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's website (http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/bleach.asp)
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water (check manufacturer's washing instructions) and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • Throw out canned foods, home-prepared food in jars, meats and dairy products and any packaged foods that may have been affected by the flood waters - check for damaged packaging, leaks, and corrosion at seams and joints of cans.
  • If your freezer's power is off, move the frozen food to another freezer or throw it out if you can't keep it frozen.
  • If in doubt, throw it out. Do not consume potentially contaminated food. For more information contact Toronto Public Health by calling 311 or visit Toronto Public Health's website on food safety at home.