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High temperatures cause winter thaw, basement flooding in Toronto

Temperatures have drastically changed over the last week, from the blistering cold to temperatures as high as 12 C. As Erica Vella reports, while some are celebrating the warmth, others are fuming over floods.

The high temperatures are being celebrated after several days stuck in a deep freeze, but for Linda Ippolito and Adi Braun, the warm weather caused headaches over happiness after noticed flooding in the basement of their home in the area of St. Clair Avenue West.

“I heard her scream ‘we have a problem,’” said Braun as she quickly rushed downstairs and the panic set in.

“We’ve been through this before and we could imagine it happening again because we did all the remedial work that we were asked to do.”

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The couple had added a sump pump, battery backup and a backflow valve after the last flood, but on Sunday the carpets in their newly painted basement were drenched.

“It was completely soaked with water,” Ippolito said.

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Braun and Ippolito said they immediately called for help and had a service in to remove the water. The problem, said Tony Lleshi, Managing Director at GTA Restoration, is the sudden thaw.

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“All the snow is melting,” he said.

“And the sewage lines cannot all this water coming through from the snow melting down.”

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Seven days ago, the city was coated in up to 25 centimetres of snow but the freezing temperatures have changed into +12 degrees and the snow is melting rapidly and some houses like Braun and Ippolito’s are experiencing flooding.

READ MORE: Winter storm slams Greater Toronto Area, up to 25 cm of snow expected

“Since it’s really warmed up we have had 46 calls,” said Bill Shea, Director of Distribution and Collection with Toronto Water.

“Normally around this time of year … you get five or 10 a day.”

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The city has tips on how to avoid basement flooding during extreme thaws and it includes shoveling melting snow away from home foundation and on to a lawn, ensuring eaves troughs and downspouts are clear and are draining properly and channeling water to the street and to the catch basins.

“The other thing you can do is make sure all foundation is sealed and you’ve sealed cracks in windows and doors,” Shea said.

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Man walks on Don Valley Parkway as cars pass by amidst GTA snowstorm
Man walks on Don Valley Parkway as cars pass by amidst GTA snowstorm

“Really, the whole idea is keeping water away from your home.”

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The city had crews working around parts of the city clearing clogged catch basins.

“We had crews out this weekend digging out catch basins and hoping to get water into the catch basins. We uncovered approximately 1,200 and we did so removal on approximately 233 kilometres of roadway,” said Mark Mills, superintendent of road operations.

“As the snow melts it should end up in the catch basins and end up in the snow sewers, lessening the impacts of flooding.”

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If a home experiences flooding, Lleshi suggests calling for help.

“Once you have a flood or water in the carpets or floors, it’s very important to call insurance companies or restoration companies to deal with it immediately,” he said.

“It will prevent mold growth and bacteria growth from happening.”