Sources of basement flooding:

  • Water that enters through your home's doors, windows, reverse sloping driveways and/or holes in the walls of the foundation.
  • Wastewater that enters your home through the sanitary sewer floor drains, sinks or toilets, are mainly caused by blockages or pipe capacity.
  • Overland flooding
    Water generated by rain and snowmelt that flows over the land creates overland flooding. The slope of the terrain contributes to overland flow. You are responsible for the proper grading of your lot to direct overland flow away from your home and to the storm sewer system where appropriate. 
  • Ground water infiltration
    Ground water can leak into your basement through holes and cracks in foundation walls and floors. Older homes may have cracks in the foundation or floor slab, which allows water to enter the basement.
  • Sewer backup
    Sewer backup happens when there is a blockage in the sanitary sewer pipe. Blockages in sewers can be caused by soil settlement, misaligned joints, root infiltration or pipe collapses.
  • A blockage in the homeowner's pipe (private property)
    Sewer blockages can also be caused by items flushed down a household drain or toilet such as cooking grease, rags, toys, flushable wipes, etc. The sewer pipe that runs from your home to the property line is owned and maintained by the homeowner. If you suspect a problem with your sanitary sewer pipe, please call the Town of Aurora at 905-727-1375.
  • A blockage in the Town's pipe (public property)
    Sewer backups may be caused by a blockage in the Town's main sanitary sewer pipe. This can be caused by a collapsed pipe or blockages caused by an accumulation of grease and/or other materials flushed down a household drain or toilet. The Town of Aurora operates its own sewer flusher truck to respond to emergencies and perform regular maintenance in high priority areas. The Town has an annual sewer inspection program in which the Town assesses the condition of the sanitary sewer pipes through Closed‐Circuit Television (CCTV) inspections. The areas are inspected each year and are based on age of infrastructure and areas identified as high priority.
  • Inflow and Infiltration
    Inflow is stormwater that enters into sanitary sewer systems.
  • Examples of sources of inflow are:
    • Stormwater runoff which enters the sanitary sewer system through manhole covers or cracks.
    • Downspouts connected to the sanitary sewer system direct stormwater runoff from the roof area drains directly into the sanitary sewer.  Note: The Town of Aurora completed a Downspout Disconnection program in 2015.
    • Weeping tiles connected to the sanitary sewer system direct water collected from weeping tile drains into the sanitary sewer.
    • Downspouts and weeping tiles should be diverting water back onto the property or to storm sewer.
    • Sump pumps connected to the sanitary sewer system direct the water accumulated in a sump basin situated in the basement of your home to the sanitary sewer.

Water from all these sources reduces the sanitary pipe capacity. If the capacity is completely used, the system backs up, potentially flooding basements.

Infiltration is water or ground water that enters a sanitary sewer through cracks, joints, broken pipe and defects in the sanitary pipes. Groundwater can enter these cracks wherever sanitary sewer systems lie beneath water tables or the soil above the sewer systems becomes saturated. The sanitary pipe on your private property may allow excessive infiltration of water due to poor maintenance, root intrusion or collapse.

If you suspect infiltration, please call the Town of Aurora at 905-727-1375 immediately.

Below are two links to the Regional Municipality of York's website that can be referenced for Inflow and Infiltration reduction and for actions that homeowners could take to reduce the amount of clean water entering the sanitary sewer.  

On the Region's Inflow and Infiltration webpage there are pictures and videos that show incorrect connections to the sanitary sewer and correct connections to the storm and sanitary systems.  

What you can do to protect your property

Reasonable steps should be taken on a routine basis to protect your home and the sanitary system.

Below are some helpful tips:

  • Ensure that lot grading directs water away from your foundation
  • Repair any cracks or holes in the basement walls or floors
  • Disconnect down spouts to direct water onto your lawn and away from your home
  • Consider using a rain barrel to collect rainwater
  • Keep your sewer pipe in good working order, free of debris, fats, oils or grease that can lead to blockages
  • Be aware of what items are flushed or poured down the sink. Small items can cause blockages when they accumulate
  • Remove debris from nearest storm drain
  • Cleaning eavestrough and extending downspouts
  • Installing window wells and covers
  • Maintain plumbing fixtures and appliances
  • Test sump pumps and install back-up power
  • Keep floor drains clear
  • Store valuables in watertight containers
  • Install and maintain flood alarms

Protection of your building and contents should always involve insurance coverage which can reimburse the costs you incur when sewer water damages your building or contents, subject to limitations and conditions in your insurance policy. Do not wait until after a sewer backs up or your property sustains damage to find out if you have coverage. Speak with your insurance representative today to ensure that your property is completely covered.

Be mindful that different insurance companies offer different coverage limits and it is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure they purchase adequate insurance to protect both the structure and the contents.

Flood prevention devices:

A backwater valve (also known as check valve and backflow prevention device) allows wastewater to flow from your property out to the main sanitary sewer at the street. The valve is placed at the exit point of the sanitary pipe from your home. In conditions when wastewater flows back toward your home, the valve closes and prevents it from re-entering.

Sewer Backflow Prevention Device Video

While this is a solution to a backflow event there are limitations to the effectiveness and ease of use of the device. Once the backwater valve is closed (or in check), wastewater from your home cannot flow to the sanitary sewer system. This means that you cannot bathe, shower, run a washing machine or dishwasher, or flush the toilet until the conditions that have caused the backflow have been eliminated and the valve returns to its normal position.
Backwater valves also need maintenance; they can be affected by grease build-up and debris that can cause them to stay open.

Video of Backwater Valve Maintenance

Weeping tiles and sump pumps

A weeping tile or foundation drain is a perforated pipe installed at the base of your home's foundation in order to drain away excess groundwater. This prevents groundwater from building up against a foundation and protecting the foundation from leaking or shifting.

Downspouts may also be connected to the weeping tile.

Houses where ground water table is high have sump pumps installed to prevent flooding. A sump pump is a device that is placed in your basement into a sump pit that collects water and pumps the water outside through a hose, to an area where the water can drain away from your house foundation.

While this is a solution to basement flooding, there are limitations to the effectiveness and ease of use of the device:

  • Sump pumps are designed to pump water at a slow rate and may not pump water fast enough if your basement is flooding
  • Sump pumps need maintenance
  • Sump pumps run on electricity and will not work during a power outage

Have a professional assess whether you need a sump pump and assist with selection and installation.

What to do if your basement floods

In the unfortunate event that your basement floods, contact your insurance company immediately. Provided you have coverage, your insurance company can recommend the services of a qualified contractor experienced in mitigating and restoring the damage sustained.

If you do not have insurance, consider safety and consider contacting an experienced restoration contractor to ensure the damage is mitigated and that everything is properly restored.

To report flooding on roads and in your neighbourhood please call the Town at 905-727-1375.

Claims for Damages

In the event that a resident is of the opinion that the Town should provide compensation for damages, a written request should be submitted to the Town Clerk as required by legislation.

Unlike a claim under one's home insurance policy, a claim against a municipality is usually founded upon an allegation of negligence. In order for the Town to consider compensating a homeowner for damage resulting from the escape of water from a sanitary or storm sewer system, the Town must have done or failed to have done something that caused the back-up. The mere occurrence of a blockage or surcharge does not mean the Town is or will be found responsible to pay for the resulting damage(s). Despite all prudent measures, blockages and back-ups may occur within a sanitary system that is extensive.

The Town will consider the factors that caused the back-up including the design, operation and maintenance of the system. The investigation into these factors can take some time, depending on the scale of the back-up. Once the investigation is complete, the Town will communicate a decision to the homeowner.

During this process, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to take all reasonable steps to mitigate any damage(s).

Helpful Clean-up Tips

If your basement has flooded, it's important to take the proper steps to ensure the basement is properly cleaned and maintained. Below are some helpful tips to assist you with that task:

  • Be aware of electrical hazards when you enter the affected area. Energized outlets and wiring below the flood water pose an electrocution hazard.
  • Be aware of health hazards when you enter the affected area. Water can carry bacteria that may affect health. Proper safety clothing and gloves should be used.
  • If safe, pump out the water using a sump pump or hire a professional.
  • Inspect/remove and assess building finishes and contents that have been submerged or have absorbed water (it is advisable that an accredited restoration contractor be consulted).
  • Mold can begin to grow within 48 hours of water exposure and may cause adverse health conditions. Properly drying areas and objects that have water damage will help reduce further mold growth and damage to the premises. Dispose any items that cannot be dried or properly restored. Dry the exposed structure by opening the basement windows and increase the ventilation.
  • Take photos of the affected area prior to the removal of the items/finishes.