The PERMA-DRY Rainbow: Your Sign of No More Floods!

Your Sign of No More Floods!

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of of our logo? What does the rainbow mean?

It’s really quite simple…The rainbow represents our promise of no more floods. The roots of that promise can be found in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, specifically, in the story of Noah’s Flood:

12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and

Your Sign of No More Floods!

every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

It was the early 1990s, some 12 years after founding PERMACRETE®, franchisor of the PERMA-DRY® brand and Bill and Colleen Cole were searching for ideas for a new logo that would better represent their rapidly growing brand; a logo that was easily identifiable and one that held real meaning; they wanted something that would represent our promise of no more floods.

After much brainstorming, and rejected idea after rejected idea, it was suggested to incorporate a rainbow as part of our logo. Bill and Colleen immediately remembered learning about the story of Noah as children in Sunday School and later reading the story to their own children. They remembered God’s promise to Noah of no more floods and the rainbow as a sign of that promise…A perfect fit for their business.

Bill and Colleen then had to decide how to represent the name itself. They wanted something that was strong, easy read and would give the impression of stability and peace of mind just looking at it. Bold block letters are used for the name portion of the logo to represent strength in our products, services and our brand. At first, the colour for the text was yellow, but was later changed to grey to better represent our strength and stability.

So there you have it; the genesis of our logo. A logo that represents our strength and our enduring promise to our customers of no more floods.

Your Sump Pump: The Workhorse for Basement Leak & Basment Drainage Systems

Your home, if it was built in the last 50 years, would have been built with some sort of drain The PERMA-PUMP Systemat the bottom of the foundation wall on the outside that runs around the entire outside perimeter. This drain, depending on when and where your home is built, would likely tie into a municipal combined or storm sewer system. In a previous blog article, Basement Drainage & Basement Flooding, we outline the different types of municipal sewer systems and how your home’s perimeter drain relies on those drains to function properly. When perimeter drains fail, many homeowners will have a sump pump installed to help keep groundwater from entering the basement.

Sump pumps are the backbone of many waterproofing or groundwater management systems and are most often installed in maintenance or repair situations. They mechanically lift groundwater from beneath your foundation and send it to a storm drain, ditch, dry well or some other area.

Nowadays, many municipalities across Canada mandate that sumps pumps be installed in newly constructed homes. Rather than discharge the newly installed perimeter drain into the municipal storm sewer, municipalities such as Charlottetown, PE and Barrie, ON mandate that the perimeter drain be discharged to a sump pump which then pumps the water to the surface of the yard or a dry well to either soak into the ground or run off. Municipalities promote this as a green initiative in order to conserve water, however, it also comes down to cost. Municipalities are mandated to treat (or at least filter) stormwater before it is discharged into our lakes, rivers and oceans. Stormwater treatment costs money. Adding clean groundwater to the system reduces the storm sewer capacity and increases treatment costs.

There are two main types of sump pumps; submersible and pedestal. Pedestal pumps have an air-cooled electric motor that sits at the top of a pedestal at the bottom of which is the pump. Pedestal pumps typically are more energy efficient and are relatively inexpensive. Submersible pumps sit in the sump basin and use the surrounding water to cool the motor. Submersible pumps typically cost more money and use more electricity, but also usually have larger capacities and are often more reliable. Pedestal pumps are all but going extinct due to changes in the National Building Code of Canada 2010 noted below. The Code mandate that sump pumps have:

2) Covers for sump pits shall be designed

a) to resist removal by children, and

b) to be airtight in accordance with Sentence

These regulations practically prohibit the use of pedestal pumps because they cannot be easily or practically installed to meet the requirements above.

Your pump should be large enough to evacuate water from the sump faster than it enters the sump basin and strong enough to push the water to where it has to go, usually referred to as head. Dynamic Head is equal to Static Head (vertical lift) plus Friction Head (friction of the water passing through the pipe).

The sump basin, the hole in which the pump is set, plays a crucial role in the overall dewatering system. A properly sized pump and sump are crucial for best performance of your system. The basin should be large enough to meet Code requirements and be large enough to accommodate the volume to accommodate the pump capacity plus a reserve. Water level in the sump basin should never be allowed to raise higher than the bottom of the inlet pipe. An 18in diameter (smaller area than the new code requires) sump basin holds 1 gallon of water per inch. The typical stroke or draw down of a pump cycle is only 5-7 inches. This means that your only pumping a maximum of 7 gallons of water per cycle. This means your pump will frequently cycle on and off. Increasing the sump basin diameter to 24in (exceeds code requirements) doubles the volume of water per inch, thus, cutting the number of pump cycles in half, extending the life of your pump. Not to mention that it will be less noticeable.

I have seen many contractors and homeowners alike beat a hole in the basement floor, dig a small hole and throw a pump in the hole. I have also seen countless pumps installed in 5 gallon pails and milk crates in these sub-floor holes. You don’t want to do (or allow a contractor either) to do either because:

  1. They don’t meet the requirements outlined in the National Building Code of Canada 2010 Volume 2 Division B Paragraph

  2. They can and will allow large diameter solids to enter the sump. These solids are usually rocks and can easily jam the pump.

  3. There is no practical way to provide them with a sealed, secured lid to meet Code requirements.

  4. They are small and will allow your pump to cycle on and off frequently.

Sump basins should be rigid enough to prohibit the side walls from caving in due to lateral soil pressure. The sides of sump basins should be perforated to allow water ingress and prevent the basin from floating. Keep in mind the diameter of the perforations need to be smaller than the diameter of the largest solids the pump is rated to evacuate! And of course, the lid needs to be sealed and either bolted or screwed on to prevent children from opening it. This also helps to keep debris and other foreign matter out of the basin.

The pump switch is responsible for automatically turning the pump on and off. There are many different types of switches available for sump pumps from mechanical float switches to tethered switches to diaphragm switches and electronic switches. Regardless of how they do the task, they all serve the same purpose; when the water level raises to a pre-determined level, the pump turns on; and, when the water level falls, turn the pump off. The pump should have a switch that is adjusted to allow the pump to evacuate at least 45-60 litres (12-15 gallons) of water at a time (providing an adequately sized basin) in order to minimize cycling and premature wear caused by a high cycle frequency.

The vertical or mechanical float switch is a float attached to a pole. The float travels vertically  inside the sump pit, restricted to basic up and down movements, and when it moves, it triggers the necessary action for engaging or disengaging the pump.

A tethered float switch is as the name implies, a float that is tethered to the pump and floats on the water in the sump pit. The tether moves up and down with the water and turns the pump on and off according to predetermined water levels. Float switches operate mechanically and depend on the adjustment of the float for proper function. While these are easy to maintain with simple operation, there are a number of problems that can cause a malfunction. The main problem that could cause your pump to work incorrectly is obstruction, usually from getting tangled or hung up on pipes and other devices in the basin and due to debris ending up in the sump pit.

Diaphragm switches use water pressure to turn the pump on and off. As water level rises, so does the water pressure which pushes against a rubber diaphragm which then pushes on a spring loaded switch which turns the pump on. When the water level falls, the spring pushes the rubber diaphram out, disengaging the switch, and thus, turning the pump off. Diagram switches are subject to failure of the rubber diaphragm due to tears caused by debris and sometimes the spring.

Electronic switches are the least common and are the most expensive. These switches have sensors which are placed inside the basin and “feel” when water levels get high or low and turn the pump on or off. Electronic switches are very reliable and don’t get hung up in the basin.

A good pump system will also include a high water alarm that will send an audible signal when water levels in the basin get too high. The alarm should be set to give enough time to check the pump switch, fuse panel, circuit breaker or call for help. Some high water alarms can be wired into a home’s alarm system or home automation system. High water alarms are worth the minimal expense.

It is a good idea to protect your home with a back-up pump. Sump pumps of course, are a mechanical devices that run on electricity. A quality sump pump should last at least ten years but are still prone to power outages and mechanical failures. Most often, when you need your pump, it is in stormy, windy, rainy conditions which are also likely to cause a power outage, thus, rendering your traditional sump pump useless. Even if you have a back-up generator that you turn on manually, you may not be home to turn it on. Is that a risk you want to take? Besides, who wants to worry and be stuck home every time bad weather is forecast? Even good quality pumps can fail from time to time due to mechanical issues such as faulty switches, stuck, tangled or dirty floats, blown circuits, worn motors, etc. Back-up pumps such as battery powered pumps are 12volt pumps that often run at 1/2-3/4 of the capacity of most sump pumps and offer great protection; something every pump system should come standard with!

One of the other biggest questions when designing a sump pump system is where to discharge the water? How far away from the house? Above or below ground? Since most municipalities won’t allow you to discharge a sump pump into the sewer system and often, when allowed, it is impractical. So what do you do? The answer is to route the discharge pipe through the foundation wall (the space between the concrete and pipe will have to be sealed later), run underground to either daylight at a ditch or over a bank into a dry well at least 5 meters (15ft) from the foundation.

When running to a ditch or dry well, it is advisable to ensure that both a backwater (check) valve and a grate are installed. The backwater valve will prevent water from backing up into your sump basin while the grate will prohibit rodents and debris from getting in the discharge pipe.

One has to be certain that normal high water level in the discharge area is not as high or higher than the discharge point of the pump. In fact, Paragraph of the National Building Code requires the bottom of the drywell be higher than the natural groundwater level. Running the discharge pipe underground will not only protect it from freezing, as will running the pipe at a 2% slope, but it will keep the pipe out of the way such as in the summer when cutting grass, etc.

A dry well can be filled with 25mm (1in) washed stone or have a larger pre-manufactured sump basin installed to minimize sediment and prevent sidewall collapse. The top of the dry well should be flush with the surrounding grade so that in the even the well gets filled, water can spill out onto the surrounding ground. Of course, this means that geotextile (filter fabric) needs to be installed at the top with a 150mm (6in) layer of washed stone above it to prevent grass clippings, leaves and other debris from getting into the dry well.

In urban settings where water use is metered and regulated, it is a good idea to install a large below-ground tank to not only discharge a sump pump, but downspouts as well. Rather than allowing this water to dissipate into the surrounding ground as with a dry well, water is held in the tank for use in gardens and gardens and to wash cars.

The National Building Code of Canada 2010 Volume 2 Division B Drainage Disposal

1) Foundation drains shall drain into a sewer, drainage ditch or dry well. Sump Pits

1) Where a sump pit is provided it shall be

a) not less than 750mm deep,

b) not less than 0.25m² in diameter

c) provided with a cover.

2) Covers for sump pits shall be designed

a) to resist removal by children, and

b) to be airtight in accordance with Sentence

3) Where gravity drainage is not practical, an automatic sump pump shall be provided to discharge the water from the sump pit described in Sentence (1) into a sewer, drainage ditch or dry well. Dry Wells

1) Dry wells may be used only when located in areas where the natural groundwater level is below the bottom of the dry well.

2) Dry wells shall be not less than 5m from the building foundation and located so that drainage is away from the building.

Supplemental reading: Site Grading and Drainage to Achieve High-Performance Basements by M.C. Swinton and T.J. Kesik for the National Research Council.

Waterproofing, Water Control & Damproofing – What’s The Difference?

Waterproofing is a term that is commonly thrown around by contractors referring to all types of different products, systems and methods designed to stop, prevent or impede water infiltration through a structure, and in our case, a foundation.  In residential applications, especially in repair and restoration situations, the term waterproofing is often misused to describe damproofing, water control and drainage.

Waterproofing, Water Control 7 Damproofing

PERMA-DRY Leaky Basement Sources Illustration

Most contractors interchange these terms and throw them around like they mean the same thing even though it couldn’t be further from the truth.  And what’s more is that many don’t understand the difference.  While all three approaches may result in a dry basement, the processes, application and effectiveness are very different.

When determining what your needs are and which way is the best way for you to go, you first must understand what the terminology means.

Waterproofing is a compound word from the words water and proofing.  Merriam-Webster defines waterproofing as:


  1. 1.       a:  the act or process of making something waterproof

b: the condition of being made waterproof

  1. 2.       something (as a coating) capable of imparting waterproofness

And goes on to define waterproof as:

impervious to water; especially: covered or treated with a material (as a solution of rubber) to prevent permeation by water defines damproofing as:



  1. 1.       resistant to dampness or the effects of dampness.

 verb (used with object)

         2.       to make dampproof.

Although a dictionary definition for Water Control could not be found, it’s commonly referred to as the act of controlling water and water flow, most often through drainage.

By its definition, waterproofing is a process that makes a foundation impervious to water.  Most waterproofing contractors only get half the equation; they waterproof the foundation’s walls, but not the floor.  Instead of waterproofing the floor (which is very difficult to do once a home is built), they rely on drainage (a draintile placed beside the foundation’s footing) to prevent hydrostatic pressure and keep water from coming through the floor/wall joint and cracks in the floor.

This kind of approach is actually a hybrid of waterproofing and water control and is a cost-effective, practical solution not to mention a pretty successful way to keep water out of your basement, but it’s not waterproofing; it’s elements of waterproofing combined with water control.


Concrete is pourous which means that it will allow water and moisture to pass through it, so in order to make your foundation “waterproof”, some sort of coating has to be applied to the concrete.  This is normally done by the application of an elastomeric (e•lasto•meric) waterproofing membrane or a crystalline waterproofing material.  To truly waterproof a foundation, the floor must also be water proofed.

The elastomeric membrane approach is a good one, but is extremely difficult to do once the house is built which usually makes it cost prohibitive.  But, if you’re building a home, especially in a wet, swampy area, waterproofing your foundation during construction can be an excellent choice to ensure a dry basement.  The process completely encapsulates the entire below grade portion of the foundation in a flexible, rubber envelope that prevents water and moisture from ever coming in contact with the concrete.

Crystalline waterproofing technology was invented by the Dutch in Holland decades ago, but has only been available in the North American market for about the last twenty years.  It works by closing off the capillaries inside the concrete, making it more dense and thus, impervious to moisture and water.    The crystalline growth re-starts every time it is exposed to moisture.  So, if the foundation settles or moves otherwise and a crack forms, as soon as water comes in contact with the material, crystalline growth starts happening immediately to shut off the leak.  Crystalline waterproofing materials can be added to the concrete mix in the truck before the concrete is placed, can be added as a shake-on power and trowelled into a wet concrete mix or it can be applied over cured concrete.


Water Control methods simply keep water out of your basement or control it when it does enter.  They all work on the basic premise of collecting water from area where you don’t want it and divert it to another area.  If your home was built after 1976, it was built with a weeping system installed at the bottom of your foundation wall and is supposed to be beside the footing, although often it is not.  The weeping tile collects surface water making its way down through the soil to the water table and water from a rising water table.  It is water control.

Lot grading, French drain systems, weeping tile systems, sub-floor drainage systems and sump pumps, air-gap (dimpled) membranes are all methods of water control.

Sub-floor drainage systems are not only very effective, but often the most cost effective way to keep your basement dry.  They also last much longer than tradition exterior drainage systems, are more environmentally friendly, and less disruptive to your life.

DAMPROOFING is the term commonly referring to asphalt (bitumen) based coating that is applied to the outside surface of a concrete wall to prevent moisture from the soil from passing through the concrete into your basement.  It can be applied by roller, brush or spray.  It is typically a very thin coating and is not capable of bridging cracks.  See, the soil around your foundation is at or near 100% humidity and moisture travels from areas of high humidity to areas of lower humidity.  And, since concrete is porous, a bare concrete wall in direct contact with damp soil allows moisture to migrate into your living space, significantly increasing the relative humidity in your basement and severely reducing the livability and enjoyment of your basement too.  There is one other concern as well; efflorescence.  Efflorescence is a white powdery to chalky substance that appears to “grow” on your foundation wall and is often mistake as mould.  Efflorescence is simply the naturally occurring “salts” in the concrete migrating to the inside surface of the foundation with the moisture as it passes through.  Damproofing your foundation walls prevent moisture migration and efflorescence.

The National Building Code only requires that a damproofing material be applied to the foundation walls below ground level and a drain tile be installed beside the foundation’s footing.  Damproofing is only intended to eliminate moisture migration through the concrete wall and does not resist hydrostatic pressure nor does it bridge cracks in the foundation walls.  The drain tile is to collect surface and ground water and drain it away from the foundation; water control.

Injection is a great solution to stop water infiltration through foundation wall cracks and can be considered a variant of waterproofing.  Many don’t understand the theory behind injection and therefore get it wrong, but when done properly, injections are affordable (they normally cost only a matter of hundreds of dollars) and flexible, permanent repairs.

Now that you know that difference between waterproofing, water control and damproofing, you can make an educated decision on which approach is best for you!


PERMA-DRY®’s newest Strategic-Partner Evan Dickie

We’re happy to introduce Evan Dickie as PERMA-DRY®’s newest Strategic-Partner!  He is taking over from Leon Isenor the central and northern areas of Nova Scotia including the counties of Guysbrough, Antigonish, Pictou, Colchester, Cumberland and East Hants.

Evan is committed to providing our customers a great customer experience taking a

stressful situation and giving customers peace of mind.  He’s also committed to living PERMA-DRY®’s mission to create and keep VERY satisfied customers.

Leon Isenor has been a PERMACRETE®/PERMA-DRY® franchisee for 22 years!  He will be taking some time off to enjoy the summer and his cottage before deciding what to do next.

Buying or Selling A House With A Wet Basement?

Buying or Selling A House With A Wet Basement?Are you considering buying or selling a home this summer but are afraid to because of a wet basement?  It’s a legitimate concern given that a wet basement decreases property value by 10-25% (Yahoo Voices).  Not to mention the fact that a home with a wet basement typically sits on the market longer.

The average Canadian house price in April 2012 was $375,810 (Canadian Real Estate Association).  That could mean up to a $93,952 loss in equity in your home due to a wet basement!  Typically, an entire basement can waterproofed for less than 2% of the average Canadian house price.  That could mean a gain of 8-23% ($30,000 – $86,000)!  Something simple like a foundation wall crack can typically be repaired for a matter of a few hundred dollars meaning even more savings!

If you’re a seller, why wouldn’t you want to unlock the maximum value on your home by fixing a wet basement?  According to Builder Magazine, 19% of home buyers won’t even consider a fixer-upper.  That will significantly reduce the market for your home.  If you’re a buyer, a home with a wet basement can be a great opportunity to score a deal.

Dealing with a wet basement can seem daunting.  With questions like what will it cost?  How do I find out what’s wrong?  Who do I call?  How do I know if what they’re saying is right?   The first thing you will want to do is contact a waterproofing professional to come into your home to conduct a detailed investigation into the source of the water leak.  Once they find the source, the professional will explain to you the causes of the leak and will make repair recommendations.  If the professional you choose also happens to be a contractor, they may provide you with cost estimates for the various options, if there are options.  Secondly you want to get estimates from at least three different waterproofing contractors.

Do your research.  Google the causes of your wet basement and the proposed solutions to make sure that what is being proposed is what’s best for you.  Get at least three references from each contractor you are considering.  Find out how long they’ve been in business and search court records for legal action.  Check out their social media outlets, their web site and of course, review sites like Google Reviews.  Through this research, you will get to know the company, their personality, trustworthiness and so on.  And finally, ask to see their warranty in writing before awarding them the job. If they won’t let you review their warranty, don’t hire them!

As you consider buying or selling a home, don’t let a wet basement stop you from the home of your dreams.

Mould Health Risks & Mould Remediation

Mould Health Risks & Mould Remediation

Mould Growth Caused By a Leaking Basement

Environmental illness, sensitivities and allergies are common today.  Exposure to mould is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma-related symptoms such as chronic wheezing, irritation symptoms and non-specific symptoms.  Living in damp houses is associated with increased rates of disease, and the cause is believed to be exposure to biological contaminants (Institute of Medicine 2000).  Occupants in houses that have dampness problems are at greater risk of exposure to mould, dust mites and bacterial endotoxins. Lower socio-economic status has been associated with higher prevalence of respiratory disease (Dales et al. 2002).

What is Mould?

The word “mould” is a term that refers to members of a few dozen filaentous fungi that when, at the right temperature and exposed to moisture, can grow on building materials.  Mold growth on building surfaces not only damages these surfaces, but also affects air quality as intact spores, as well as spore and mycelial fragments, are dispersed in the air. These can be inhaled depending on their size and concentration. Exposure to mould is associated with increased rates of respiratory disease.

Good Mould and Bad Mould

There is no type or amount of mould that is acceptable to be present in an indoor space that is normally occupied by human beings nor is there an acceptable exposure limit to mould.

Health Canada, in their Residential Indoor Air Quality GuidelinesMoulds released March 31, 2007, says:

Health Canada considers that mould growth in residential buildings may pose a health hazard. Health risks depend on exposure and, for asthma symptoms, on allergic sensitization. However, the large number of mould species and strains growing in buildings and the large inter-individual variability in human response to mould exposure preclude the derivation of exposure limits. Therefore, Health Canada recommends:

  • to control humidity and diligently repair any water damage in residences to prevent mould growth; and
  • To clean thoroughly any visible or concealed mould growing in residential buildings.

These recommendations apply regardless of the mould species found to be growing in the building.

Further, in the absence of exposure limits, results from tests for the presence of fungi in air cannot be used to assess risks to the health of building occupants.

What Does It Need To Grow?

There are mould spores in the air almost everywhere; inside you home, office and in the air outside.  Mould growth requires three things:

  1. Temperatures between 10˚C and 30˚C – Ideal living conditions for humans
  2. 2.    Exposure to moisture for a minimum of 24-48 hours – Mould can’t grow without moisture, so keeping your home fry is critical
  3. Organic food source – most building materials consist of organic materials for mould spores to feed and grow on.

How Do I Manage or Eliminate Mould Growth?

The best way to manage mold growth is to prevent it before it occurs.  Prompt attention to condensation, wet basements and wet building materials will eliminate the growth of mould and prevent the increase of other contaminants, such as house dust mites in the built environment.  Consult with a professional to can identify sources of basement leaks in your home and provide you with an action plan to permanently repair a leaky basement.  Preventive actions are relatively inexpensive compared to the costs associated with mould. The value of prevention is even more obvious when one takes into account health problems that may be avoided.

If mould is already growing in your home or you suspect it is, hire a professional to conduct an investigation to determine if and where mould is present.  A typical investigation will include a visual inspection looking signs of mould like discolouration of flooring and wall coverings, a leaky basement, leaking windows, plumbing, ventilation and condensation.

Not all mould is visible and a moisture meter may be required to measure the moisture content in the home’s finishes.  FLIR (forward looking infra-red) may be used to look for water behind walls and obstacles.  Air samples may also need to be taken to detect airbourne mould spores.  Air samples are also good to establish a baseline before remediation and again measure after remediation to determine effectiveness of the remediation.

Once an evaluation is completed, a plan can then be developed to remediate the mould problem in your home.  Remediation may include:

  1. Correction and repair of basement leaks and moisture; and
  2. Washing surfaces with hot soapy water; and
  3. Removal of contaminated building materials

A wet basement and the presence of mould can be very stressful; the fear of the unknown, the health risks and damage to your home.  If you have a basement leak and/or mould growth in your home, you need to hire professionals to investigate the sources and to design a plan to remediate the mould and correct the water problems.

Basement Drainage & Basement Flooding

If you live in an area with a municipal sewer system and your home’s basement drainage system is tied into that system, you could be in trouble when a big storm hits!  Most municipal sewer systems in Canada are only designed to handle storm water from storms that happen once every five years (20% chance) with older systems only capable of draining water from storms that happen once every two years (50% chance)!

Basement Drainage Flooded Basement

Sewer Back-Up in Finished Basement

When these kinds of storms hit, sewer systems get overloaded which prevents yourbasement drainage system from draining causing your basement to flood.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get a swimming pool in your basement that you didn’t bargain for, and if you’re not, you’ll have a sewage treatment plant in your basement!

Waste water, whether it’s sanitary or storm, get to their respective sewer main under the street via a sewer lateral that runs from your home to the sewer main.  Laterals often collapse over time, especially with poor quality pipes that were used in the 60’s and earlier.  Tree root infiltration into residential laterals in another common problem, especially in homes with older sewer laterals reducing the capacity of the lateral and trap solid waste.

There Are Three Common Types of Municipal Sewer Systems:

Sanitary Sewer:  is for collecting household plumbing waste from sinks, toilets, showers and typically does not carry any surface water.  Unlike in the past, municipalities now treat waste water from the sanitary sewer system before it is discharged. Almost every municipality prohibits clean groundwater and surface water from being introduced into the sanitary sewer system due not only to the cost of treating clean water, but the reduction in the system’s capacity that adding clean water causes.

Storm Sewer:  collects surface water during rain, snow melt and storms.  Water from storm sewer systems are not always treated and often run directly into lakes, rivers, etc.

Combined Sewer: are typically found in older cities and sections of older cities.  They collect the household sanitary waste and storm water as well.  Back in the day this waste water was not treated and was dumped directly into harbours, lakes, rivers and so on.  Most municipalities with combined sewer systems have embarked on massive public infrastructure projects to separate combined sewer systems into two separate systems; Sanitary and Storm.  In areas where this hasn’t been done, many municipalities have passed by-laws prohibiting household surface water from foundation drains, sump pumps and downspouts from being discharged into the combined sewer system.

Municipal Requirements

Older homes often have their basement drainage system tied into the sanitary sewer system or a combined sewer system.  Most municipalities prohibit clean groundwater and surface water from being introduced into these systems.  Existing homes with the original basement drainage system tied-in are often grandfathered in; however, a lot of municipalities give incentives to homeowners to disconnect from these systems.  Replacement of the basement drainage system is often not grandfathered and therefore illegal to tie a replacement basement drainage system into either a sanitary or combined sewer system.

If you have to replace your existing basement drainage system, consult with your municipality to find out what you can do and what you can’t.  In many cases, a sump pump is required to mechanically lift groundwater from the basement to the surface on the outside.  If you have a contractor that doesn’t know your municipally requirements, don’t hire him!  Even worse, if they do know the requirements and choose to cut corners and disobey the law, run!  What does that tell you about their character and integrity?  About the likelihood of them honoring your warranty if they even provide one?

So What Can You Do To Protect Your Home From Flood Damage?

  1. Have a licensed plumber install a back flow preventer (backwater valve) on your sanitary sewer line if you don’t already have one.
  2. Disconnect your downspouts from your perimeter drain and sewer system.
  3. Disconnect your basement drainage system from the sewer system.
  4. Install either a new basement drain that discharges to a low area or
  5. Install a sump pump to mechanically lift water from your basement to the surface.  A battery powered back-up pump is highly recommended to be installed any time a sump pump is installed.  A battery powered back-up will protect you from not only power outages, but mechanical failure too.
  6. Ensure proper lot grading and drainage around your home.
  7. Hire a Foundation Waterproofing & Drainage professional to conduct a thorough investigation of your basement drainage system.
  8. Hire a licensed plumber to do a thorough investigation of your home’s plumbing system and especially your sewer lateral.


Basement flooding is a serious problem, having surpassed fire damage as the #1 cause of loss in Canadian homes.  In order to have a dry and flood-free basement, your home requires a well-designed, properly functioning drainage system to drain ground and surface water from around your home.

Have your basement drainage system inspected by a professional, and have your basement drainage disconnected from the sewer system and either install a new drain that uses gravity to drain to a low area or install a sump pump to lift the water out of your basement.  And don’t forget the back-up pump!


Water infiltration into your basement through the floor can be a serious problem causing significant damage to your home. Waterproofing basement floor is the best way to prevent problems. Ideally, this would be done during construction, but often is not. If you need to waterproof basement floor after the home is built, first, you must understand how and why water gets past your basement floor into your basement. Water can enter your basement by coming through:

• Cracks in the floor due to hydrostatic pressure
• Floor/Wall joint due to hydrostatic pressure
• Capillary action
• Vapour transmission due to differential
• Condensation due to a cold floor and warm, humid air in the loving space.

Waterproofing Basment Floor

Water Flooding Basement through the basement floor

Hydrostatic pressure is a technical term for water pressure. Simply put, the force of gravity exerted on a liquid at equilibrium; the weight of water bearing on an object. This happens when you have a high water table and insufficient drainage around the bottom of your foundation. The water table on the outside of the foundation will rise higher than the basement floor level causing the water trapped beneath the floor to come under pressure. As pressure builds, water will force its way into your basement through cracks in the floor and the floor/wall joint.

Capillary action is when water is “drawn” upward, against the pull of gravity through narrow tubes in porous materials called “capillaries”. Your concrete basement floor is porous and if the water table rises to come into contact with the underside of the slab, water will migrate through the floor slab due to capillary action causing a wet floor.

Vapour Transmission occurs when moisture migrates from areas of high humidity to areas of lower humidity. The soil beneath and around your foundation is at 100% humidity and as we learned above, the concrete in your home is porous and when you combine that with basement humidity between 50-65%, moisture will naturally move from the soil through the concrete into the living space without a vapour barrier.

Condensation often occurs in the summer in un-insulated basement floors. At a soil depth of 2.45m (8ft), the soil is 10˚C (53˚F) even in the summer! This cold soil keeps an un-insulated concrete floor cold. You’ve probably noticed this walking around on our bare feet. When hot, humid summer air comes into contact with the cold floor, it condenses leaving water behind like water on the outside of a glass of ice water on a hot summer day.

There are numerous ways to correct these problems and prevent them in the first place. Over the past 40+/- years an asphalt based coating has typically been applied to the outside of foundation walls as a damp proofing material to prevent vapour transmission through the walls. Spray applied damp proofing is not practical to use on a basement floor so instead, polyethylene sheeting is often installed on the sub-soils beneath the basement floor has been used over the past 30 + years as a vapour barrier to eliminate vapour transmission through the floor and minimize capillary action. Perimeter drains or footing drains as they’re sometimes called drain water away from the bottom of your foundation, lowering the water table minimizing capillary action. Over the past 25-30 years, new homes have had to have air exchangers installed which remove heavy, moist air from the basement and exhaust it to the outdoors helping to reduce condensation on the floor. To further help reduce condensation, extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam) insulation is installed beneath the concrete floor to act as a thermal break in order to help keep the floor temperature closer to room temperature, further reducing condensation.

Waterproofing basement floor is an important to the livability and enjoyment of your home. If you are considering waterproofing your basement floor, you should contact a professional to come to your home to provide a consultation and come up with a plan that’s specific to your home.



Unfortunately basement flooding is a common occurrence in many parts of Canada and can cause significant damage to your home ruining flooring, drywall and your belongings not to mention the risk of unhealthy mould growth.  Dealing with basement flooding and the damage it causes can be very stressful for a homeowner.  And, if left unrepaired, can be very expensive!

Wet Basement, Basement Flooding

Basement Flooding

How Serious Is Basement Flooding?

Basement flooding is a serious problem having surpassed fire damage as the #1 cause of loss in Canadian homes. There are many negative consequences associated with basement flooding, above and beyond the inconvenient mess and disruption of household routine. Research cites the following impacts:

  • Chronically wet houses are linked to an increase in respiratory problems.
  • Frequent occurrences of basement flooding can result in long-term damage to the building and equipment that may not be covered by insurance.
  • Insurance rates may rise to compensate for repeated basement flooding claims, and/or the minimum deductible may be increased significantly.
  • Property value may depreciate because the basement is prone to frequent flooding.

Before appropriate measures can be taken, it is important to identify the causes of basement flooding. These range from problems originating in the individual dwelling to problems associated with the municipal sewer systems that serve entire communities.

Why Do Basements Flood?

Water can enter your basement for a number of reasons. Water in your basement is most likely to occur during periods of heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting rapidly during a spring thaw. In these cases, your basement can be wet because of:

  • A crack in your home’s basement walls;
  • Poor lot drainage and landscaping;
  • Windows too close to grade without window wells and properly functioning drains;
  • Failure of the weeping tiles (foundation drains) causing hydrostatic pressure and water to come in through cracks in the floor and the floor/wall joint; and
  • Overflowing eavestroughs or leaking/plugged downspouts.

Basement flooding may also occur because of:

  • A blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street;
  • A back-up of wastewater in the sewer system (or a combination of wastewater and rainwater from the sanitary or combined sewer system); and
  • Failure of a sump pump (in some areas) used to pump weeping tile water.

Basements are also vulnerable to natural river flooding disasters, but these cannot be addressed by individual homeowners.

Basement flooding is a serious issue that is becoming more and more prevalent.  It is something that every homeowner should take seriously and take action to prevent.  Regular inspection of your foundation and plumbing is critical as is maintaining proper lot drainage and grading.