Fast snow melt could lead to surge of flooded basements

The heavy dump of snow might create the illusion of a winter wonderland, but coupled with mild temperatures and a little rain, a fast melt could mean trouble for basements and crawl spaces.

“The problems can come when this switches over and starts melting,” said Jason Dupuis, owner of Good Grade Plumbing & Gas. Snow will often block catch basins, and water won’t be able to drain away, and will instead stay on properties.

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Dupuis said water needs a place to go, and when the ground is saturated, and the water has bypassed a blocked catch basin at the street, it can flow back to the home.

“When it starts to melt, we could see flooded basements,” he said. “If it’s a slow melt there’s no problem, but if we get rain, it will be a mess. There will be so much water there won’t be ways for it to get to the storm drains.”

He advises directing downspouts away from the house to push melt water as far away as possible.

Chris Schmidt, president of Island Basement Systems, said it’s really no different than during a heavy rain.

“If there’s a sudden surge of water, we will start to get calls,” he said.

His company is a restoration and waterproofing firm whose work is focused on fixing leaky basements and crawl spaces.

In some cases the floods and leaks are the result of snow being piled up against a house.

He said when that pile starts to melt, it can’t always drain away quickly and can end up seeping under a home’s siding or through the stucco, over the foundation and into the basement.

He also noted that some perimeter drains can’t handle a surge of water, which also leads to flooding.

Some things that homeowners can do to ward off flooding include: cleaning out gutters so melting snow doesn’t back up under shingles, channelling water away from the home’s foundation, clearing storm drains on the street, and, if there’s a sump pump, making sure it’s working properly.

The City of Victoria has been preparing for the impending melt.

Ed Robertson, assistant director of public works, said crews started locating catch basins Tuesday morning and are clearing them out.

Robertson said the system can handle most things the weather can throw at it short of a flash flood. “The system should have the capacity to carry [the melt]. it’s just a matter of getting it off the roads,” he said.

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