What’s Available for Rebates?
The City of Toronto has decided to give support to an assortment of plumbing projects that it considers highly important. In particular, the City offers partial rebates for certain measures that provide protection against basement flooding.
The Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program
The Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program is designed to assist homeowners who are taking steps to reduce the potential damage arising from basement flooding. Remembering back to the extensive basement flooding that took place in Toronto and Mississauga on July 8, 2013, this subsidy program makes a lot of sense. On that day Toronto saw rainfall that it had rarely, if ever, experienced before, and the consequence was that thousands of basements experienced flooding. While in many cases insurance gave some relief to homeowners, not all situations were covered. In addition — and this is the part relevant to the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program — many insurers subsequently decided they did not want to be exposed to another set of similar costly settlements in the future. As a result, homeowner policies were often modified to remove coverage against basement flooding unless the homeowner made changes to the plumbing configurations of their basements and sewers. Changes looked for by insurers include backflow prevention, sealing window wells, disconnecting downspouts, and so forth.
Insurers are now looking for evidence that homeowners have implemented such changes before they will renew those homeowners’ policies. Fortunately, some of the required changes are things for which the City of Toronto now offers rebates to offset some of the cost of implementation. Covered in the rebates that the City offers are backwater valves, sump pumps, and foundation drain (weeping tile) severance and capping.
Backwater valves prevent rising water in a sewer line from entering a basement through floor drains. Located after all potential entry points in the house (such as toilets, sinks, shower drains, and floor drains), and on the line leading to the City’s sewer system, backwater valves are an important safeguard against flooding.
Under the topic of “backwater valves” the City of Toronto offers rebates on the following work: installing new backwater valves, replacing existing backwater valves, and installing alarms for backwater valves.
The subsidy offers to cover 80% of the invoiced cost on work up to a maximum of $1,250, including eligible labour, materials, permit, and taxes. The coverage can be for multiple backwater valves, but regardless of the number of devices installed at the property the amount of the subsidy is limited to $1,250 per property.
Sump pumps pump water from a collection well (sump pit) in a basement out to the home’s drainage system. They monitor the water level in the sump pit and activate when the level rises too high. Because they may need to operate when a power outage has disabled the electrical distribution grid, many sump pump installations include a back-up power system to guarantee they will operate when power fails.
Sump pump installations are subsidized in a way similar to the subsidy offered on backwater valves: coverage is for installing new sump pumps, replacing existing sump pumps, Installing alarms for sump pumps, and installing back-up power for sump pumps. Again, the subsidy offers coverage of 80% of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,750, including eligible labour, materials, permit, and taxes. As with backwater valves, multiple devices are covered but the limit of the subsidy remains $1,750 in total per property.
Foundation drain severance
Because weeping tiles (foundation drains) are often connected to the City’s sewer system, in cases when the drainage need is intense (such as during heavy precipitation) those connections can overcharge the sewer, and lead to water entering the basement. Disconnecting the foundation drains prevents that risk, and capping the connection reduces animals and roots from entering the foundation drain system.
For foundation drains, the City will provide 80% of the invoiced cost up to $400 per property (including eligible labour, materials, and taxes) for disconnecting foundation drains from the City’s sewer system. The work typically includes severing and capping the underground sewer connection.
What’s not eligible for subsidies?
Disconnecting the downspout connections from your property’s eavestrough system to the sewer is not covered: although this also is an important part of forestalling potential flooding, this work is something you will have to pay for fully yourself. Fortunately, this is perhaps the least expensive of anti-flooding measures.
How to Access Subsidies
Taken together, these subsidies can amount to as much as $3400 per property, but note that the City does not offer subsidies on work done on a do-it-yourself basis. You need a properly licensed contractor.
The City of Toronto does not endorse any particular plumbing and drainage contractors but requires that those used for this program have a valid City of Toronto business license. Because the City does not endorse any particular contractor, it’s important that you research the potential contractors you employ.
The specific licensing needed depends on the work being done. Businesses/trades’ licensing are governed by the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545.
If the work involves installing a backwater valve or sump pump, or severing and capping the weeping tile connection, the following licenses are required: City of Toronto licensed Plumbing Contractor (licence #T94); Plumbing & Heating Contractor (licence #T92); or Drain Contractor (license # T87). If the work entails installing a sump pump or severing and capping the weeping tile connection, a City of Toronto licensed Building Renovator (license # T85) can be hired.
To verify if a contractor has the appropriate licensing, contact Municipal Licensing & Standards at 416-392-6700 or go on-line at the City of Toronto website.
Master Drain is experienced with the work subsidized in the Basement Flooding Protection Program, and can assess what potential flooding risks and solutions apply in your case. Contact Master Drain for details.