Renovation & Design

Protect your home from winter runoff


Hair, Band-Aids and makeup remover pads are just some of the items that can clog the drain in your bathtub.

It’s the time of year homeowners view with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, spring is a joyous time because five to six months of snow is finally starting to disappear. At the same time, that spring melt can engender panic over the possibility that runoff from the (hopefully) rapidly disappearing snow might end up in their basement.

And because snowfall in and around the city was above normal this winter, the springtime affliction known as Winter Runoff Disorder (WRD) will likely be running at an all-time high.

The best way to minimize WRD this spring is to do some preventive maintenance, said Dave Kenny, general manager of Reliance Superior Heating & Cooling (Winnipeg).

"My question to homeowners is, if water comes into your basement, are you sure you can get it out?" he says. "If your sump pump, below-grade drains and house to sewer drain (one, or all) aren’t working properly, then there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get it out."

What’s the best way to ensure your basement will stay high and dry come spring?

"Simple – you should get its protection systems tested and inspected every year; it’s just something that needs to be done on an annual basis. It’s the only way you can be sure that your drainage systems are working properly."

He adds that the inspection — which involves checking sewer drains with a camera equipped with a scope that can provide a detailed view of the condition of drains — isn’t onerously expensive at $169 for spring maintenance (normal charge is $269).

"We’ll have a technician come out to inspect all drains leading to your home’s main plumbing stack. Any problems — main lines/pipes that have shifted due to roots, soil movement or cracks — will be easily identified by the camera.

Because there are no obvious symptoms associated with drainage problems, the only way to find them is through a visual inspection. The technician will also inspect your sump pump, as well."

Kenny says homeowners are often surprised about what that sump pump inspection reveals. In many cases, it turns out a sump pump isn’t working because — unbeknownst to a the homeowner — it’s burnt out.

"That’s something you can ill-afford because it’s such a key part of your drainage system. Our technician will bring it back to proper working condition and can also install a pump that has a battery back-up that will keep the pump running if the power goes out. The inspection just provides peace of mind. When the spring melt comes, your drainage system will be working properly."

There are also several other things homeowners can do to prevent flooding from happening in bathrooms, says Kenny.

"While the most serious flooding incident in a home is a flooded basement, the most common incident is flooding in bathroom from clogged drains. There are several things that can cause such flooding."

Those causes include: diapers (and other baby products), wipes, feminine hygiene products, toys, Q-Tips, hair elastics and dental floss. Other drain-cloggers include hair, Band-Aids and makeup remover pads (or cotton balls).

The main message with the spring melt looming?

"Be proactive," Kenny says.

"Getting an inspection done can identify problems that can be corrected before the spring melt is in full force. Doing that will keep your basement dry, and refraining from clogging drains... will keep water out of your bathroom, too."


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