When you are looking to protect your home from floods, you should assess your environment outside and inside. Assess where water will get in to your home or if there are weak spots that will fail under pressure and think of local water sources potentially as other risks. If you are near lakes or other flood zones, the risks are greater to have more water and it happen suddenly rather than a slow buildup. Once you have noted where it will get in it is a good idea to check how it will react or spread once it gets in. Think of the amount of water coming in as levels and adjusts your strategy and plans for the different levels. The first level of planning should be to protect your home from water even entering at all.
Evaluate the Risks of Flooding
A good start is to evaluate your risk of having a flood. You can visit FEMA’s flood map to determine if you are in an area prone to flooding. You also may want to evaluate your properties height level or slope to determine if heavy water will flow away from your property or flow towards it and if there are areas where water will pool and sit. Those areas might pool for a small storm but heavy rainfall will make them overflow and you should determine where that overflow will go. To help determine if you will have issues regarding water flow observe your property during a heavy rain and look for the movement of water and areas where water pools. Other areas to observe are the water height in the street and pooling on neighbors’ properties. If the street or the neighbor’s property can’t handle light rainfall then there will be an issue with flooding. You should also check your gutters for clogs or potential of overflowing.
Evaluate the Outside for Risks of:
- Flooding by area
- Flood water flowing towards home
- Pools of water on property overflowing towards home
- Flooding from overflow of either the street or neighbor’s property
- Clogged gutters or other drainage systems
There are a few things to check the risks of flooding coming from inside your home. Check pipes for leaks or damage such as bulges, cracks, tears, or rust. You may already have a small burst pipe leading to a small leak without knowing it. You should look for signs of small leaks behind walls or ceilings. Signs you should look for include water stains or discoloration, moist walls, wall texture changes such as bubbles, mold or mildew, musty smells, and signs or sounds of water dripping. Check areas such as the attic for roof leaks, areas inside around gutters that may be clogged, basement walls for weak spots or damaged areas where ground water may be getting in, bathrooms for toilet leaks or tub/shower leaks, any areas under sinks for leaking pipes, air conditioners, and appliance connections that require water such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washers.
Evaluate the Inside for Risks of:
- Pipes bursting, bulges, tearing or cracking
- Small leaks have already occurred behind walls or ceilings
- Leaks from plumbing
- Leaking appliances
- Leaking basement walls
- Leaking roof
- Leaks from clogged gutters
Protect Your Home from Flooding
- Clear the gutters to prevent clogs
- Make sure downspouts move water away from home and not to an area that pools and make sure it doesn’t flow into neighbor’s property.
- Have regular roof inspections to ensure no leaking
- If neighbor property’s water flow is toward your house, build a wall or elevate the land to direct water to street drainage
- Elevate land to direct water flow away including areas that pool
- Check your landscaping for areas that may erode and change the water flow
- Build a rain garden to help create an area where you can pool water when you cannot safely move water away from the property
- Install check valves or/and backflow preventer on pipes entering your home to prevent sewage overflowing back into your home
- Make sure you don’t have wet mulch against your house as wet mulch may cause mold growth or the moisture may be absorbed and lead to structural weakness on the surface it leans against
- Check the areas listed in the “evaluate” section above for damage and repair the damage
- Hire professionals to water proof your basement
- Use sealants and coatings to your foundation, walls and windows to create a “dry floodproofing”
- Install a sump pump in the basement
- Raise your outlets, switches, and electronics to 1 foot above area flood levels
- Make sure all items on basement floor are in containers that water won’t destroy unlike cardboard boxes
What to do when it does flood inside
When your protections have failed and you now have a water emergency with water pouring inside you should try to minimize the damage as quick as possible to prevent permanent water damage.
- Stop the source of water coming in. If the water is coming from a pipe burst, turn off the water at the main valve to stop the water. If the source is coming in from outside try to block the leak with either makeshift sandbags (trash bags filled with dirt or mud or even other non-buoyant materials such as flour and sugar) and duct tape to seal any cracks.
- If the water is coming in from outside try to determine if it is coming in from a problem area you can fix such as:
- Cleaning a Clogged Gutter
- Redirecting water flow via sandbags
- Stop further damage by moving dry belongings to dry areas
- Either start to remove the water yourself via dry vacs and/or pumps or call a professional water restoration company such as SI Restoration to professionally remove the water and dry the area to prevent permanent water damage.
- If you are removing the water yourself begin to dry the area via fans and other methods. It is recommended to have professionals extract the water and dry the area as they will have the expertise and training to do this properly and limit the permanent damage that will have to be either removed or replaced and prevent mold growth occurring.