Weather is unpredictable and it can be treacherous. While there is nothing you can do to prevent bad weather from happening, there ARE things you can do to prepare your house for it. There are no guarantees that your home won’t sustain any damage, but these steps will help protect your home from flooding:
- Know the flood level of your home. You will need an official measure of how high floodwaters could rise where you live. There are flood maps available on line at FEMA. Your home insurance agent should have this information as well.
- Determine how water flows around your property. The grading or slope of your yard can determine whether water will flow to or away from your house. Observe how water flows during a typical rainstorm.
- Make sure electrical and climate systems are safe. Once you know the possible flood levels, you can move switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above where flooding may reach them. If possible, adapt your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment to sit higher than the property flood level.
- Raise and secure outdoor equipment. Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be secured and raised above flood level. Generators won’t help you if they engulfed by water. They should never sit on the ground.
- Adjust water valves to prevent sewage backups into your home. Install an interior or exterior backflow valve. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) recommends gate valves because they create a stronger seal than flap or check valves. They are more complicated because you operate them by hand, but reduce the risk of water getting in. These valves should be installed in all the pipes in the house.
- Extreme cases might require a complete retrofit. One option is to raise your home so that the lowest floor is above flood level. It’s an expensive option, but if you live in an area that experiences frequent flooding, it may be necessary. Another option is to “wet-proof” your home by putting in foundation vents that allow water to flow through the structure rather than rising inside and causing more damage. The third option is to “dry-proof” by using coatings and other sealing materials to walls to keep water out.
- When you know bad weather is on the way, take these last minute steps to help prevent flooding damage:
- Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.
- Move furniture, rugs, electronic and treasured items to upper floors. If you have a one-story home, raise them above flood level if possible.
- Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.
The expense of preparing for flooding may seem overwhelming, but the catastrophic damage it can cause could possibly cost far more, both financially and emotionally. Do what you can to protect yourself today!