How to Protect Your Home Against Spring Flooding in Ottawa

Ottawa and its surrounding areas are no stranger to the challenges posed by spring flooding. As the snow melts, the Rideau River and Ottawa River take on the melted water and often overflow. Leaving many unhappy homeowners to clean up their wet basements, throw out destroyed items and deal with structural issues caused by the flood. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to protect your home against spring flooding and outline the City of Ottawa’s flooding rebates and programs. 

Table of Contents

How do I stop my basement from flooding?

Here are our expert tips on preventing flooding in Ottawa: 

  • Clean Gutters: Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure water can flow freely away from your home’s foundation. Make sure your downspouts are extended away from the foundation of your home.
  • Seal Foundation Cracks: Inspect your home’s foundation for any cracks or gaps. Seal all identified openings using appropriate waterproofing materials to prevent water infiltration.
  • Get a Plumbing Inspection: An annual plumbing inspection is a great idea for any home, allowing you to identify plumbing issues before they become costly problems. If you’re worried about flooding it’s a good idea to book this inspection before flooding season starts. An expert plumber will be able to identify flooding risk factors and guard your home against them. – Learn more about plumbing inspections.
  • Improve Yard Grading: If you have experienced flooding in past years it is a good idea to ensure that the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation. Consider adding soil or adjusting the landscape to achieve proper grading that helps divert water away from the foundation. 
  • Install a Sump Pump and/or a Backwater Valve: Consider installing a sump pump and/or a backwater valve (more on this below). If you already have a sump pump and/or backwater valve it’s a good idea to get it cleaned and inspected before flooding season to ensure it is in good working condition.  
  • Install Dehumidifier: If your basement floor or walls get noticeably moist each spring it’s a good idea to install a dehumidifier. This won’t protect against a flooding event but it can combat associated issues such as mould growth. – Learn more about dehumidifiers

Use Sandbags: Sandbags or flood barriers can be used as a temporary measure to prepare for a particularly heavy rainfall or major flooding event. The City of Ottawa will often provide sandbags to those who need them free of charge. – See the City of Ottawa website for more details on flooding prevention.

Rain falling from gutter

Do I need a Sump Pump or Backwater Valve in Ottawa?

Since Ottawa (as well as surrounding regions such as Nepean, Barrhaven, Kanata, Orleans, Gloucester, and Vanier) are prone to flooding we suggest that every homeowner have at least a backwater valve installed, as well as a sump pump if the home is in a high-risk flooding area. Luckily, the City of Ottawa has several rebates available to help homeowners afford these flooding protection products (more on this below). 

Below we summarize the difference between a sump pump and a backwater valve for more details check out our post: Why you should install a backwater valve in Ottawa

Backwater Valve:

Purpose: A backwater valve is installed in the main sewer line below your home to prevent sewage and flood water from backing up into your home. If you don’t have a backwater valve or it isn’t working correctly you run the risk of sewage or flood water entering your home through floor drains in the basement or through sinks, bathtubs, toilets and other fixtures. 

When to Consider: In areas prone to flooding, heavy rainfall, or sewage system backups such as Ottawa and surrounding regions. 

Sump Pump:

Purpose: A sump pump is designed to remove excess water that accumulates in a sump pit, usually found in basements or crawl spaces. It helps prevent flooding by pumping the water away from the foundation and discharging it safely outside. 

When to Consider: If your home has a history of basement flooding or is located in an area prone to flooding. Check out the Flood Plain Map of Ottawa to see if your home is in a high-risk area. 

While sump pumps and backwater valves serve different purposes, they can both be valuable in protecting your home from water damage and flooding. To find out which protective plumbing systems are best suited for your home it’s best to consult a protective plumbing expert. 

Who is eligible for Flooding Rebates in Ottawa?

What many homeowners in the Ottawa region may not be aware of is that the city has three programs designed to help homeowners with flooding and sewage backup issues: the Residential Protective Plumbing Program, the Preventative Maintenance Program and the Residential Compassionate Grant

The Residential Protective Plumbing Program (RPPP) can cover anywhere from 50% to 100% of the expenses associated with the installation of a new protective plumbing device such as a backwater valve and/or a sump pump. This rebate does not cover any repairs, maintenance and replacement of a current protective plumbing device, however, is a great option for Ottawa homes that lack this infrastructure. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit the City of Ottawa website

The Preventative Maintenance Program applies to Ottawa properties that have experienced a sewer backup caused by trees owned by the City of Ottawa or structural defects on the City-owned portion of the sewer. The City of Ottawa offers a sewer maintenance service annually to these impacted properties to ensure the proper function of the sewer and help prevent sewer backups. – Learn more

The Residential Compassionate Grant is designed to assist homeowners who have recurring issues with sewage backup in their homes. Ottawa homeowners who have been affected by flooding three or more times in the past 15 years could be eligible for a grant of up to $1,000. – Learn more 


Still worried about flooding? Don’t panic! Give us a call and our plumbing experts will be happy to help you create a plan to safeguard your home against flooding. Count on Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling, your Ottawa plumbing experts!