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Indoor Flood Prevention


Things to do Inside your Home

  • Fill and seal any visible indoor foundation cracks with silicone to prevent water from entering your basement. Be sure to consult a qualified contractor if you notice any large cracks in your foundation.

  • Refrain from excessive water use when it’s raining. Taking a long shower, washing clothes and running your dishwasher can all add to the demand on the wastewater system.

  • Consider purchasing a backwater valve. It can be the last line of defense in protecting your home from sewer back up.

  • If your home has a backwater valve, check it at least once a year to ensure that it’s working properly. This can be done by seeing if the flap moves freely and that it is free of debris.

  • If your home has a sump pump, check it annually. You can test a sump pump by taking off the lid and pouring water into the pump well to activate the pump.

  • Keep in mind that devices like backwater valves and sump pumps need periodic cleaning and maintenance. Be sure to consult a plumber for servicing.


Sump Pumps

The majority of homes built after 1995 have a sump pump. A working pump plays an important part in flood prevention, channeling groundwater out and away from your home. During heavy rainfall homeowners should check on their sump pump to ensure that it is operating correctly.

If your home was built after 1995, you should be aware of the condition of your pump and whether it needs replacing. A good quality pump should last around 10 years, depending on how often it is working and the dirtiness of the water.

Different manufacturers have different recommendations for testing and maintaining your sump pump. Some recommend testing the pump every two to three months, others recommend a yearly test. Follow any recommendations provided by the manufacturer. The pump should be located in a shallow pit or sump at the lowest point in your basement. 

Once you’ve located the pump, you can perform a simple 3-step test to ensure the pump is working properly:

  1. Check to make sure the power is running to the sump pump.
  2. Pour enough water into the sump pit for the pump to begin working.
  3. Check the outside pipe to ensure that water is flowing from the discharge. line outside your home. In some cases the pump may seem to run but not pump water.

If you test the pump and it is not working properly:

  • Check for debris blocking the suction intake.
  • Listen for strange noises coming from the motor.
  • Check for oil in the sump well (may indicate a failed pump seal).
  •  If the activating switch for the pump works on a float, check that the float is not restricted. Depending on the problems you encounter you may want to consider getting your sump pump serviced or replaced.

Backwater Valves

A backwater valve sits inside a home’s branch or main wastewater line. Its job is to prevent sewage from returning up a wastewater line and entering the basement. It is an effective last line of defense and is recommended for all homes that are at risk of flooding.
During a storm, wastewater trying to flow back into a home causes the backwater valve to close its flap. This action prevents sewage from re-entering the home, but it also means water from inside your home can’t get out until the valve re-opens.
Remember: When the valve closes the wastewater line, you should not use the toilet, sink, shower, washer, dishwasher or anything else that discharges wastewater. The wastewater will have nowhere to go except up the floor drain and into your basement.
Backwater valves need to be cleaned and maintained annually to ensure that they work properly:
1.       Open the top and clean out any debris
2.       Check the flapper – make sure it is moving freely

Drainage 101


In the City of Lethbridge, private and public drainage systems work together to channel and move wastewater and stormwater safely away from homes and neighbourhood streets.

The private system includes things like eavestroughs, downspouts, weeping tiles, lot grading and sump pumps and is the responsibility of residential and commercial property owners. The public system is owned and operated by the City of Lethbridge and includes the wastewater and stormwater pipes that run under the streets and alleys.

  • The wastewater system deals with all water disposed of inside the home. Water from showers, toilets, sinks, dishwashers, clothes washers and floor drains is channeled to a pipe under your basement floor. This pipe is connected to a larger wastewater pipe located under the street or alleys. The wastewater flows through these pipes to our Wastewater Treatment Plant where it is cleaned and then released into the Oldman River.
  • The stormwater system deals with roof and surface water that comes from rainfall or snowmelt. Sloped lawns and driveways direct water from the roof and the ground to the street or alleys, where stormdrains are located. The stormdrains are connected to large underground stormwater pipes which flow to storm ponds and directly into the Oldman River. Water that seeps through the ground is collected by weeping tile (foundation drain) located at the bottom of your home's foundation. Your foundation drain is either connected to a sump pump or to a wastewater pipe under your basement floor.
Various servicing scenarios exist in Lethbridge and each property has unique connection requirements.

More Information

For more information

Phone: 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge)
Online: Submit a service request