January/2021 Review - Flooded Crawl Space
We are Ashton “no Problem” Plan members, homeowners for over 40 years, and practice preventative maintenance. Both working professionals, we understand geography, soil permeability, and its potential impact on homeownership. We do not live in a “low-lying” geographic area, but at 115 m (377 ft) above sea level. Our house is situated modestly higher than most of our neighbours but neighbourhood topography is flat. On our property, beneath 3 feet of landscaping soil, is a clay base therefore water table is historically high because clay constrains good drainage. We have successfully managed this for the 20 years we have owned this house.
Inside the house, we routinely every 3 months check our crawl space for “leaks”. Crawl space is est. 3½ ft., heated, has a concrete floor, wood studs. Insulation is Styrofoam. There is no gyprock. We store nothing in the crawl space.
On Friday, January 1, 2021, New Year’s Day, we opened the hatch to the crawl space – and were stunned to see 1½ ft. of water. We immediately called Ashton’s Emergency Line. Their response was quick, professional, courteous, and empathetic. You may recall the heavy rains and flooding that news broadcasts warned us about. We learned that Ashton had heavy call volume, 24-hour on-all staff were triaging calls, and working on days off. So we were all under pressure. And, we are in the midst of COVID-19 which doesn’t help.
Ashton responded promptly. This began a 14-day process during which the water was pumped out of our crawl space, our house perimeter drains were observed with camera scopes, our sump located, the crawl space water problem analyzed and problem identified: The drain between our property and city property was clogged with sediment & leaf debris, so the water backed up into our crawl space. To rectify: Within the sump, a 90° pipe was installed to prevent leaf/sediment inflow, the sump raised, and professionally pumped out to give us a fresh baseline from which to begin. Sump is now 2-3 inches above ground with modern lid, and the crawl space is positioned with fans to aid drying.
We are grateful we were Ashton No Problem Plan clients. Throughout, despite some missteps to be expected under pressurized times, Ashton’s performance was exemplary, as always, as befits their prices. Superior service and superior price go hand-in-hand.
We did learn some lessons:
#1) Importantly, If you don’t have a regular plumbing & heating company, find one when the weather is good – when you don’t need one. Arrange for annual plumbing and heating check. Specifically, arrange for perimeter drainage (drainage tile) system check and regular 3 to 5-year hydro-flushing. If this drainage system is not working properly, water will enter your basement or crawl space as it did ours. This approach is critical now that we all know that climate change is bringing longer and stronger weather events.
#2) Equally as important, know the location of your house sump. Ours was buried by previous homeowners who had grassed over it and buried it under 1½ ft of soil.
#3) If hoses are being laid out of your crawl space into the back yard, ensure the hose has no kinks and is not tangled so that the water can flow.
#4) Ensure pumps in the crawl space continue to work. Make sure they are set up where you can see them and adjust them if you need to. All equipment can fail, and human beings make mistakes, especially working in poor light (because it was at night & crawl spaces are poorly lit), poor weather, and pressure cooker situations.
#3) Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, avoid storage in your crawl space. We had none for which I am grateful. However, if your crawl space is full of storage, you may want to ask yourself how you will manage to remove the now-ruined storage to give Ashton (and yourself) the room to maneuver in a flooded, filled-with-storage space – and what will you do with it once you have removed it?