×

Preparing for the Deluge

By Mark Philben

This winter seemed to catch all of us by surprise. In late January, we’d had only 5.5 inches of snow, and, at that point, the ground was bare. The optimists among us looked forward to an early spring. Then came the first big storm, and the next, and the next one after that, and—well, I don’t need to remind you. Add in the endless arctic cold, and we created a slow-motion disaster, with ice dams, snow piling up on roofs, narrow roads with high snow banks, and all of the issues that come with those things.

Now, as we look to the arrival of spring just over a week away, a new fear grips many of us: What is going to happen when all of this snow melts?

Window wells like this can be a point for water from melting snow to enter your basement. Image by Legacy Windows via Flickr Creative Commons.

Window wells like this can be a point for water from melting snow to enter your basement. Image by Legacy Windows via Flickr Creative Commons.

Well, the water will need to go somewhere, and, for many of us, that place is our basement. How can we prepare for the deluge and hopefully minimize its impact? Here are a few tips that I hope will get us through with no major problems:

  1. Don’t have a sump pump? If you anticipate flooding, now is the time to get one. Remember trying to buy a roof rake a few weeks ago? You might consider purchasing a wet vac too.
  2. If you already have a sump pump, is it turned on? Does it work? Dump a few buckets of water in your drain and see if the pump kicks in. If not, now would be the time to fix it.
  3. Where does your sump pump drain? Clear the snow away from your drain hose so the water has somewhere to go.
  4. Protect entry points: shovel snow away from window wells and basement doors and off bulkheads. If snow is piled up to the sills of your first-floor windows, shovel away from there, too.
  5. Look around your basement and take steps to protect your belongings. If the Christmas ornaments are in a box on the floor, put them on a shelf. If Grandma’s old rocker is sitting in a corner down there, maybe it can come upstairs for a while.
  6. If flooding does happen, don’t touch electrical switches or plug things in while standing in water.

Mark Philben is project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations, 91 River Street, Cambridge, charlie-allen.com.