“This home has been here since 1912 and never had a flood in the basement.” My initial thought was, “OK Buddy, SUUUURRRRE.” It’s not that I make it a habit of disbelieving my clients, but when the water is pouring in through the walls and up from the floor, it is difficult to believe that seemingly innocuous rains have caused this much damage, but the century and half century floods of 1964, 1948 or 1996. However, that is exactly the case! (Hey, no one bats 1000!) The first few times I heard this, I didn’t believe it, and even after hearing from a handful of clients over the past five years, I remained skeptical. But now? I believe them almost every time. And why? Because of a program called Downspout Disconnect. This is a program hatched by the city to reduce the load on it’s already over-taxed storm drain system. Check out this article by the city of Portland.
So you’re telling me that the city will pay me $53/connection to take my property off of the storm drain system? Sounds great! But do you know what it doesn’t tell you? It doesn’t tell you that you should compare that $53/connection (so, let’s assume the average house has 4 total connections, which means $212 total) with the cost of having a company like PureSpace come out to dry out your basement. When this exercise is completed, you will instantly see that the $212 just isn’t worth it… usually by a factor of at least 10, and often more.
The real tragedy is that it is often the neighbors who do this and it causes a problem on your property. Let’s take a moment to figure out why this is happening. If you have a 1500 Sq. Ft home, and you collect every drop from a ½ inch rainstorm, how much water would you have? The answer will shock you. I hope you stocked up on those blue plastic barrels, because this one everyday-in-the-Northwest-winter-rain-event would net you 500 gallons! That is a staggering amount of water! So, if you multiply that times the annual rainfall for Portland, your roof sheds about 20,000 gallons of water each year!
So, back to our original topic. What do you suppose would happen to your previously dry basement if the neighbor on the uphill side of your home had an additional 20,000 gallons of water on and under their property? The effect is cumulative from year to year, so know that after several years, you are talking about a staggering amount of water that could potentially reach your home! So when someone says that they have a very old home that has never had a flooded basement until just this year, you should tell them to talk to their neighbors up the hill about sharing that $212 from the city to cover your flood cleanup costs!