Basement Flooding Information

Basement flooding info

Above: Standard Newer Home Construction Example Showing Proper Connections

Water in basement is usually caused by one of two sources:

Through stormwater seeping in  walls, floors or windows. This is normally due to inadequate drainage or grading around a home, malfunctioning sump pumps, gutters or foundation drains, which are the responsibility of the property owner.

2) Through sanitary sewer backups from the basement drain.  Backups can occur from a variety of reasons, most commonly in older areas during wet weather.  A common cause is from sanitary sewer surcharging from inflow and infiltration, known as "I/I," which refers basically to ground or rain water entering the sewer system through cracks in city or home sewer pipes or from outdated roof or foundation drain connections.  Other causes: sewer blockages from grease, debris, or tree roots; collapses or other deteriorated conditions in a city or home sewer line. 

Where Do I Report Storm or Sanitary Sewer Problems in Columbus?

Notify the city's 24-hour Sewer Maintenance Operations Center immediately at 614-645-7102.  While the problem may turn out to be in the private property line for which the owner is responsible, it is best to call the city first to check the public system. If you would like to file an online report to see if you qualify for a Project Dry Basement backflow prevention device, please apply here Wet Basement and Neighborhood Flooding Questionnaire.

What is the City of Columbus doing about aging sewers and wet weather problems?

  • Sanitary sewer I/I (inflow and infiltration) sewer studies have been conducted in various older neighborhoods and will continue in other areas.

  • Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs) are normally identified as a result of the sewer studies.  Solutions may include rehabilitating older sewers through trenchless technology such as cured-in-place-pipe, or sewer replacement or adding additional/larger sewers to increase capacity.

  • Capacity studies on the sewer system are ongoing to determine additional capacity needs.  Two major plans in development are due to the Ohio EPA in July 2005, know as the System Evaluation and Capacity Assurance Plan (SECAP) and the Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan (CSO LTCP).  Additional CIPs will be prioritized pending the acceptance of those two plans. 

  • Project Dry Basement - a backflow prevention program was developed as an individual household solution for homes affected by sewer backups related to the public system.  To qualify for the program, you must first report the backup to the Sewer Maintenance Operations Center at 614-645-7102, which may also be reached through 311 (or 614-645-3111).  If a crew can verify that the problem is related to the public system and your property is eligible, you will be mailed an application.  For additional information, please visit the Project Dry Basement web page.

  • Stormwater Capital Improvement Projects are developed to solve neighborhood surface flooding problems.  Please report any street flooding to the Sewer Maintenance Operations Center by calling 311 or 614-645-3111.  If the crew cannot find a blockage or issue they can address, please complete and submit a  Wet Basement and Neighborhood Flooding Questionnaire  for capital improvement project consideration. 

  • Preventive maintenance such as tree root foaming, cleaning and televising of the city's sewers is performed to achieve maximum performance of the system.

Other tips:

  • If your home was built prior to 1963, check your downspouts to make sure they are not still connected to the sanitary sewer, which is now prohibited by city code. They should drain into the street or yard. Roof and foundation/footer drain connections add excess water to the sewer system.  Disconnection instructions are available - call 614-645-2123.
  • Take a good look at your property's drainage system.  Make sure your sump pump and drainage system around the home are working properly.  Keep your gutters free of debris. One way to check for blockages on your home drains is to run water from a hose through them to see if the water is draining properly.   Check the grading around your home to make sure water is directed away from, and not toward, the structure. Fill in any low spots in your yard that may allow water to pond.  
  • To prevent sewer blockages, never pour grease, paint or other thick liquids into your sinks or drains.  Avoid flushing items not suitable for sanitary sewer disposal, such as paper towels, diaper wipes, contraceptive and feminine products.
  • Verify with your insurance company if you have flood and sewer backup coverage, especially if your basement is finished. This coverage usually requires a separate rider to your policy.
  • Be aware when you buy or rent a home if it is in a flood plain or flood- prone area. Homes at lower elevations, in flood plains and those with depressed driveways are more likely to experience flooding problems.
  • If a sewer backup occurs, proper cleanup procedures must be followed for safety reasons.  Never enter a flooded basement - the risk of electrocution is present.  Wait for the water to recede.  Please see our cleanup instructions. 
  • If you have a mature tree near your sewer line or the city’s sewer and have experienced root invasion in the past, consider removing the tree to avoid future problems. 

For questions, please email DOSD or call 614-645-7175.  Do not email sewer maintenance service requests - basement and surface flooding and other sewer issues must be reported to the 24-hour Sewer Maintenance Operations Center by calling 311 or 614-645-3111.