8 Tips for Reducing Flood Risk
Many homeowners are complacent, even during major downpours, because they are enjoying a false sense of security. Incredibly, most homeowners think that they are fully covered for any kind of damage to their homes because they carry some type of property insurance. Sadly, this is not the case, and all too many owners find out the hard way that flood damage is not covered by most policies. In order to be covered for flooding, a specific flood insurance policy must be purchased.
Another common mistake is to assume that living in an area with low flood risk negates the need for flood insurance. All it takes is one faulty water heater, a pipe bursting in the cold of winter, gutters that empty straight down the side of the foundation, a toilet or bath overflowing … and a flood is born. Flooding can happen for so many reasons — even a large aquarium can cause expensive flood damage. So today we will look at eight tips for staying ahead of possible floods and mitigating risks that can lead to expensive repairs.
Construction of levees around a residential building can be effective at reducing or eliminating building and contents damage during flood events. The measures will work best when used along with a pump system or interior storage system to address rain that falls within the levee.
- Gutters: The rain gutters that channel rain water off the roof usually do a great job of aiming the water where you want it- away from the foundation of the structure. But the gutters cannot operate properly when they are full to the brim with leaves and other debris. Mesh gutter covers can help keep leaves out while allowing water to seep through. Better yet, homeowners should definitely make a habit of examining and clearing the gutters on a regular basis, especially before the rainy seasons.
- Downspouts direct the water away from the house, but in so many cases the last section of the downspout has been lost or dislodged. If a downspout is discharging the water straight into the ground next to the house, over time this water will find a way through the wall and into the basement. Downspouts should be extended at least five feet from the house, and aimed at an area that will not impact others.
- Regular inspections of plumbing, water heaters, and fixtures such as toilets, baths, and sinks can save a lot of expense down the road. Small leaks can be repaired quickly and cheaply, but if left neglected may end up costing thousands of dollars in major repair bills.
- Inspection of basements, eaves, and exterior hose bibs can also spot problems before they become unmanageable. Look for signs of mold, mildew, water stains, and seepage and find the source of the seepage. Small repairs are so much easier and less expensive to take care of!
- Landscaping and berms that slope down and away from the house can offer major flood protection benefits as well as natural beauty. Plantings should be kept some distance away from the exterior walls so that the irrigation process does not also include the basement.
- No matter what precautions are taken, basements are often the scene of unfortunate flooding events. By elevating expensive items like water heaters, AC units, and appliances the prudent homeowner will buy time to get the flooding under control before incurring huge replacement expenses.
- Sump pumps can be a lifesaver during those times when water gets into the cellar. However, in many cases the flooding in the basement results from major precipitation and thunderstorms, which may mean that the power has been lost. Today there are many battery-backup pumps on the market, and installing one of these devices may even get you a discount on your property insurance rates.
- Sealing basement walls with special sealants can also help to keep your house dry and safe.
These are just a few ways to help keep floods from damaging your home. But major flooding can happen almost anywhere, so be sure to be prepared for it. Know where your utility shut-off valves are, keep your important documents and valuable electronics in an elevated and protected location, and always keep a ‘go bag’ filled with emergency supplies and relevant phone numbers. Prevention measures will go along way to lessening your chances for disaster, and being prepared in advance is crucial.