Flooding can occur anytime, anywhere, and often with little or no warning.
Everything from seasonal storms or broken pipes to snowmelt, hurricanes, and major flood events can inundate your home with water and cause thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to structures and property in just a few hours.
Before Flood Season
The internet abounds with tips and advice on how to protect yourself and your family during a flood (and you should look into these), but what about your home and property?
The best time to prepare for a natural or home disaster is before it occurs, so let's take a look at some important steps you can take to help protect your home and property from serious water damage and corresponding expense.
Buy and install sump pumps with backup power
The best way to prevent minor leaks and water events from happening is to make sure that water doesn’t collect and rise, but instead is collected and drained as quickly as it appears.
A sump pump, placed at the lowest water collection point in a home (typically a basement or crawlspace) is activated when it senses the presence of collecting water. Once detected, the sump turns on and pumps out any standing water via a hose connected to the wastewater system.
This ensures that incoming water from weather or broken pipes can’t rise high enough to damage the house foundations or basement floors and walls.
As flooding events can often include a loss of power to homes or whole neighborhoods, something for extended periods, it’s important to have a sump pump that includes a water alarm and battery backup power or one that can be connected to a generator.
A professional electrician or plumber can evaluate your home's specific needs and make recommendations on the best sump-pump system for you.
Waterproof your basement and first floor.
Basements are often the hardest-hit areas in a flooding event, so it’s important to do everything possible to protect and “waterproof” that area of your home. This can include installing drains, storm-proofing windows and doors, and diverting exterior water flow (drains and downspouts) away from the house, window wells, and foundation.
For homes without basements, or facing serious flooding, damage to ground levels can be significant, especially to floors and walls. Water damages drywall loses its structural integrity and nearly always needs to be removed and replaced.
Drywall replacement and mold removal or remediation can be extremely costly and invasive. A waterproof and mold-resistant drywall alternative is a good investment in the long-term stability and functionality of your home and can add significantly to its value.
Install backflow valves
Backflow valves installed for your toilets, sink drains, and other waste-water connections can help prevent floodwaters from overflowing into your home but automaking blocking water (and other liquids) from revering flow through your pipes.
Washing machines, bathtubs, and dishwaters are also susceptible to backflow overflowing as well, both from external greywater as well as sewage leaks.
At worst these can lead to dangerous bacterial health risks and expensive replacements of contaminated surfaces (including carpets, flooring, and sub-floors). At best it’s a nasty laborious clean-up process to deal with on top of other water damage issues.
Contact a professional plumber about installing backflow valves in your home.
Invest in a flood insurance policy
Just one inch of flood water can create over $25,000 in water-related damages.
One of the most important precautions you can take as a homeowner, whether you’re in a known flood zone or not, is to invest in flood insurance. Most home owner’s (and renter’s insurance) policies do not include or have extremely limiting protections for flood damage.
See our post, “4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Flood Insurance” to learn more about the importance of flood insurance, and to make sure you’re getting the right coverage for your home and property.
Did you know? - When flooding is imminent or predicted, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders are eligible to receive up to $1,000 to purchase loss avoidance supplies like tarps, sandbags, and more.
When Flooding is Imminent
When flooding is imminent to your area, your family’s safety and protection are your highest priority. Once that is ensured, however, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure that damage to your home and property is minimized as well.
Stay informed & have a plan
Radio, TV, or Internet with a backup power supply (or fresh batteries for the radio) is critical to stay informed of local weather changes, warnings, or evacuation notices. Have a practiced evacuation plan, as well as a shelter in place plan to implement if needed, and monitor local emergency weather channels.
Make sure to:
Elevate and anchor critical utilities like propane tanks, sockets, exposed wiring, appliances, and electronics above expected flood levels, or (when possible) move them to a higher level of the house, or to the attic.
In the event of major flooding, exterior fuel tanks and other equipment can be swept away and cause major damage to other properties. Be sure to anchor or store them as safely as possible, as well.
Fuel, especially, can be a fire or explosion risk if it comes in contact with downed power lines or open flame.
Move furniture and valuables to a safe place, such as an attic or the highest floor of your home, and store them in water-safer containers.
Make sure friends and family members outside of your home know the plan as well, so they can reconnect with you as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.
No one wants to face the stress or cost of flood damage, but the reality is that these types of disasters can, and do, occur, and even regularly given your geographic location.
Your best chance to minimize your risk is to prepare for the worst, and be ready in advance.