When it comes to owning property, nothing is more damaging to your asset than Mother Nature herself. Whether you are a landlord, renter, or homeowner, natural disasters are a force to be reckoned with—one which you cannot prevent, no matter how hard you try. Across the US, one of the largest and most common devastations to homes is flooding. While you can’t prevent flooding from happening, you can take steps to protect your home and limit the damage sustained by taking a few additional steps before the disaster occurs.
While flooding in your home can be a nightmare, believe it or not, it can get worse. If your sewage system floods, it can cause the system to get backed up. What does this mean? The backed-up system has to expel the waste somewhere—and it will do so into your house.
Having a house flood is awful, but having a house flood with the contents of your sewage system as well is the worst outcome possible. To avoid this, install interior and exterior valves on your system to prevent backflow. While there are many options available on the market for these valves, gate valves are generally the best choice you can make. Although they have to be manually operated, they do provide a stronger seal than other forms of valves.
To prevent any costly replacements, anchor and raise any outdoor equipment. This includes fuel tanks, air conditioning units, generators, et cetera. This will not only stop any of these vital pieces of equipment from floating away, but it will prevent the units from sustaining any water damage should flooding occur.
When it comes to flooding, the longer the water sits in your home the larger the amount of damage your home will sustain. Purchasing a battery-powered sump pump will give you the ability to pump the water out of your home as quickly as possible. Even if you have a sump pump already installed in your home, chances are it is connected to the property’s electricity—so if your power goes out, so does your ability to pump. Always have a backup plan!
While landscaping may not seem like something you need to prioritize, believe it or not, it can help reduce the amount of water that reaches your house. By utilizing porous materials in your landscaping, it can help to absorb excess water, thus minimizing the amount that reaches the home. Changing cement, concrete, or asphalt driveways into more absorbent materials, such as gravel, brick, or mulch can help, too.
Drainage ditches, trenches, and French drains also help divert water from your house.
Determining your area’s local flood level is a great tool in preparing your home for flooding. Once you are aware of the potential level, you can minimize the damage done to electrical systems and appliances by raising everything above this level. For example, raise all switches, sockets, and circuit breakers, and wiring systems above the estimated height. Any radiators, furnaces, water heaters, et cetera should also be raised above this level to prevent any water damage.
If you opt to build your home, you can account for flooding in the design. However, if you purchase an existing house, the remaining option is to retrofit—in other words, alter and adapt the home to prepare for flooding.
In these cases, you can take several routes. Just about any home can be modified to become a “stilt home” by adding columns or piers. If raising your home up onto piers or columns is well out of your price range (this can cost upwards of $200,000). Another option is to install foundation vents into the property, which helps to flow water through the building itself instead of allowing it to rise up inside of the living spaces.
In situations where this is not feasible, coatings and sealants can be applied to walls to help keep out flooding waters.
When the moment arrives, there are many last-minute options that you can take to help minimize the damage and expenses that can accrue during a flood, even if you haven’t taken any of these other steps prior to the event.
Quickly clear out any drains and downspouts, to help direct water away from the home and prevent any backlogging of the water’s path. Bag up any important documents, such as passports, insurance policies, birth certificates, et cetera in zip lock or waterproof bags to prevent water damage. Move rugs, furniture, and knickknacks to a second story if possible, if not, try to elevate them from ground level. Use cement blocks to elevate any appliances you can. Most importantly, shut off power at the breaker panel.
While you can’t stop a flood from happening, you can take steps to reduce the amount of damage your house sustains. Remember, a little extra money and time before the moment will save you a lot of expense and heartache down the road.