Checklist: How to Prevent Flood Damage

June 30, 2020

A flood can quickly devastate your home, leaving you overwhelmed by the damage.  

Whether you're facing a major storm, a flash flooding event, overflowing rivers, poor drainage, or a combination of multiple water issues, being proactive in protecting your property can help you avoid the worst.  

Unfortunately, without the right flood preparations, the effects of a flood can linger for months and years. A flood can even cause homeowners to sell their property up to 30 percent below market value because of water damage and related foundation problems. 

Let's consider two strategies for protecting your property from flood damage — one is a set of steps you can take when flooding could happen soon, and the other is a long-term strategy for fortification and mitigation.  

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Flooding  

If you see heavy rains or flooding in your weather forecast, it's time to start preparing your property.  

Keep in mind that different types of flooding will give you different amounts of preparation time. If a flash flood is imminent, you may want to grab your valuables and get to safety. However, if you have a week's notice before major rainstorms hit, you'll be able to implement more types of home protection.  

These steps can help you manage any upcoming threats.  

  1. Install a Sump Pump

A sump pump is at the core of effective flood preparation. If water enters your home, a sump pump can help you to get it out.  

Sump pumps come in all shapes and sizes, so in order to determine the correct one for your home, the square footage of your home's footprint and type of flood threat should be considered. Think about the volume of water you could be dealing with and the speed that you want to be pumping it out.  

The best sump pumps have an integrated backup battery. This is an important failsafe to keep your sump pump working even during a power outage. Remember that during a flood, electrical systems and generators can be dangerous, but batteries that are integrated into a sump pump are designed to work in water events.  

Even when running on battery power, your sump pump could remove more than 2,000 gallons of water per hour from your home. 

A free inspection can help you understand how a sump pump system can be used to address your property's flood risk. It can take about a day for a professional to install a sump pump in your basement. 

  1. Address Gutters and Exterior Drainage

When facing major rains, it's important to make sure that the precipitation is being directed away from your property.  

Even just three inches of rain on a 1,200-square-foot roof can yield 1,243 gallons of water. Keeping that water away from your home can stop a problem before it starts.  

Well-functioning gutters are an important part of flood protection, capturing rainfall and directing it away from your property. If your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, the water could flow right into the foundation of your house, seeping into your basement, crawl space or the lower level of your home.  

It takes just a couple of hours to clean out your gutters and add downspout extension pipes onto the drain spouts.  

  1. Use Smart Water Sensors

Technology can be a helpful tool in managing a flood and staying informed about your house.  

By placing smart water sensors throughout your home and basement, you'll be able to get notified on your smartphone about where water is entering your home and at what level it's reaching.  

Add sensors at low points and problem areas, and use your smartphone to monitor remotely. You can be alerted about a problem instantly, letting you know when you need to take action.   

  1. Elevate or Protect Possessions

When facing heavy rains and a high risk of flooding, consider how any flooding could damage your valuables or possessions.  

Don't leave important paperwork like your passport stashed away in a ground-level desk drawer. Elevate large furniture up onto cinder blocks, move lighter possessions to an upper story or your house, and secure your valuables.  

If you don't have much notice, keep your priorities in check. It's more important for you to get to a safe location rather than to try to protect your belongings.  

  1. Install Backflow Valves on Drains

A backflow valve can protect a water-logged sewer or septic system from flowing backward into your home. With these plumbing valves in place, you'll be able to help keep raw sewage from coming back up into your house.  

The cost for backflow prevention averages around $300.1 That's a small price to pay when faced with the alternative home cleanup and health risk.  

4 Important Ways to Prevent Flood Damage 

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damages to your home.  

Many homeowners are getting serious about protecting against flood risks. Whether you've recently experienced a significant flood event or know the type of damage that's possible, strong actions before a flood occurs can help you mitigate and prevent severe flood damage.  

A focused effort to waterproof your basement will help you to be the most prepared for a flood. If you live in a flood zone, talk to your insurance agent about how structural improvements could help you to lower your premiums.  

  1. Add a Flood Vent to Equalize Water Pressure

The most severe home damage occurs when a surge of rising water creates pressure on the exterior of your home, causing the foundation wall to cave in or collapse.  

Flood vents may seem counterintuitive, but their smart engineering can help you protect your home. Rather than keeping water out of your home, a flood vent allows water into your basement or crawl space. This equalizes the pressure on your structure.  

By installing flood vents, you can avoid foundation damage during a water surge. After this stage, you can deal with getting water out of your basement or crawl space. If you're in a flood-prone area, your homeowner's insurance or building codes may even require you to have flood vents. 

  1. Elevate Utilities

Floodwaters can damage your utility systems, quickly increasing the cost to get your home back in order.  

You can protect these utility systems by raising them off the ground on concrete or doing rewiring. 

Elevate electrical panels, central air units, water heaters, and furnaces. If these systems are above the potential flood level, they could be spared from the water damage caused by being submerged.  

  1. Add an Interior French Drain 

Effective drainage can help you keep floodwaters flowing out of your home rather than becoming a stagnant pool in your basement. 

An interior drainage system in your basement creates a path of least resistance to collect and redirect water to the exterior of your home. The interior gutter system will collect water along the perimeter of your basement. Then the drain can be used in tandem with a sump pump or piped into an existing drainage system to get the water out.  

  1. Add an Exterior Curtain Drain to Manage Surface Water  

A gravel-topped curtain drain on the exterior of your house can help you manage surface water and runoff. Using a similar method as a French drain, the curtain drain creates a path of least resistance, allowing you to use gravity to direct water away from your foundation.   

By keeping more water flowing away from your house, you'll be helping prevent interior flood damage. The curtain drain can even become a part of your landscape design.