Toronto is a lakefront city built on rivers, creeks, and ravines, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that during rainy, snowy winters where the temperature is often hovering between freeze and thaw, basement flooding can be an issue. 

According to a report by The Globe and Mail, Toronto’s sewer system is often above capacity even when it isn’t raining, and when the skies open up, flash floods have become just another part of life. 

This means that homeowners often have to take a proactive stance toward basement flooding, and they can’t assume that just because their home is on higher ground, flooding won’t be an issue. They could still walk down into their basement and see water pooling on the floor one afternoon.

Fortunately, if you’re living in the city, there are many ways that basement waterproofing experts in Toronto can help you ensure that your home stays safe and dry during even the most violent winter storms. 

In this post, we’ll be exploring how a French drain can help you channel water away from your foundation so that even when the ground around your house is saturated, the water still has somewhere else to go. 

What is a French Drain?

French drains were originally designed to help keep water flowing out of areas saturated with moisture. They work according to a very simple principle: by installing perforated pipes in a bed of gravel, water can be drained ambiently from the soil, rather than having to be collected in a downspout or reservoir first. 

Also known as a rock drain or weeping tile, French drains are usually installed around the foundation of a house as an alternative to open ditches or storm sewers. When installed correctly, a French drain requires little maintenance and provides extra protection for properties where there is little recourse for natural drainage. 

How Do French Drains Work?

When it rains, water seeps into the soil or runs downhill. With enough precipitation, however, the ground becomes saturated and can take on more water. Different types of soil absorb water at different rates, and the speed at which a particular patch of ground will drain water depends on its contents and the ratio of sand, silt, and clay. 

Toronto contains a rich diversity of soil types, and depending on where you live, you may be contending with faster-draining sand or compact, heavy clay — in which case drainage will be slow, and the ground around your home will reach its saturation point quickly. When this happens, the water can damage your foundation and, over time, seep into your basement.  

To counter this, NTL Contracting’s excavation and demolition contractors can dig a ditch around your property and put down drainage pipes that contain a series of holes or perforations along the sides. These pipes are designed to channel water away from your home so it can enter the municipal sewer system. 

Once the pipes have been laid, they are covered in gravel, which keeps the holes from being clogged with earth. This gravel is then covered in topsoil. 

With a French drain installed, rainwater or snowmelt will filter down into the gravel, enter the pipe, and flow away from the house, making it a lot harder for your soil to reach its saturation point. 

What If a French Drain Isn’t Enough?

While French drains are an excellent solution to the problem of soil-saturation, in the case of older homes or homes that are built in heavily developed areas, French drains may not be a sufficient solution. 

If a foundation is too damaged to hold patches or keep the water out, it becomes necessary to rebuild it from scratch. In this case, you will need to consider a structural intervention like basement underpinning in order to protect your home from flooding and water damage. 

Basement underpinning is the process by which the entire foundation of a house is replaced. Underpinning gets its name from the underpins that are installed to support the weight of the house while the foundation is being replaced, and while it is a big job, it provides many benefits, including:

  • A stronger, completely new foundation
  • Deeper floors and higher ceilings
  • Expansion of the basement under extensions

When underpinning a house, NTL Contracting can also repair or install new drains so that your home has a completely updated drainage system from the tap to the street. Underpinning is a process that can require significant planning and preparation, so if you are considering undertaking this kind of repair in the new year, it’s best to start planning now. 

Toronto’s infrastructure is under a lot of strain due to growth and because the advent of climate change has led to unstable weather patterns and unpredictable precipitation. And with the ground freezing and thawing more frequently throughout the winter, foundations are under more stress than ever.

This means that the onus is on homeowners to take the necessary steps to ensure that their property can handle increased amounts of rainwater and snowmelt — especially if they live in neighbourhoods on lower ground that receive a lot of runoff. 

The good news is that, in many cases, you may be able to get some form of municipal support to undertake repairs or install flood protection devices. For instance, the city offers subsidies for backwater valve installation, which will make your home flood-resistant during heavy storms. It also offers subsidies for installing sump pumps and severing/capping storm sewer connections. 

Your home insurance package may also help cover the cost of these repairs. You don’t have to forego these home improvements for the sake of your wallet. 

It should go without saying, of course, that these kinds of repairs can significantly improve the value of your home, especially if the underpinning process allows you to add bedrooms, bathrooms, and other amenities. 

With over twenty years of experience in the business, we are one of the top-rated Toronto restoration services, so if you think the time has come to explore your options for making your property more resilient, get in touch with NTL Contracting for a consultation today.