Protecting Your Home from Water Damage and Flooding

Aerial Flooding
Aerial image of neighborhood flooding. (Tony Wu Photography/Pixels)

Along with warmer weather and greener scenery, spring can also bring severe storms, heavy rain, and flooding which can result in costly water damage to your home and the loss of valuable possessions.

Here are seven tips to help protect your home from flooding and water damage.


Broken Roof
Leaks and water damage can bring slow and sullen damage to your home. (tahiV/Getty Images Signature)

Tip #1: Inspect and Repair Your Roof

A leaky roof can cause a lot more damage to your house than unsightly water stains on the ceiling. Roof leaks keep attic insulation wet, which can lead to rot and mold.

The unseen damage caused by roof leaks is often worse than what meets the eye, so it’s important to have it fixed as soon as possible. Having a reputable roofing contractor inspect your roof, check for undetected leaks, and make any needed repairs can prevent more costly damage down the road.


Inventory
Keeping inventory and important documents of your home can help you and your insurance in the long run. (utah778/Getty Images)

Tip #2: Document Your Possessions

Compiling a detailed home inventory of your personal possessions, backed up with photos and/or video, can be invaluable when processing an insurance claim in the aftermath of a flood or storm damage.

Keep the documentation in a waterproof container stored as high as possible away from rising water, and put a backup copy in a safe deposit box or other secure remote location.

It’s also a good idea to scan and maintain digital copies of all important records and keep them in a waterproof safe or a safety deposit box away from the house. That way, you’ll have more than enough evidence to support an insurance claim for damage caused by water or severe weather.


Cut branches
Dead or unclean growth on your trees may become dangerous with strong winds. (slobo/Getty Images Signature)

Tip #3: Trim Your Trees

To help prevent storm damage to your home, it’s important to trim tree branches that are growing near or hanging over your home to prevent them from breaking and crashing through the roof or damaging your siding during a storm.

Check to make sure all trees and large shrubs are alive and well, and remove any dead limbs or unhealthy plants. A dead plant may not seem like a threat, but it is more likely to be broken by strong winds during severe weather.


Clean Gutter
Buildup of debris in your gutters will make your roof prone to water buildup and other possible damage. (davidmariuz/Getty Images)

Tip #4: Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

It’s also important to make sure to keep your gutters clean, repair any gutter leaks, and check regularly to see that they drain properly.

In addition, inspect your downspouts, remove any downspout clogs, and use splash blocks or downspout extension pipes to make sure the water is directed well away from your house foundation.


House Foundtion
The more elevated your home is, the less likely it will flood. (jure/Getty Images Pro)

Tip #5: Guard Your Foundation and Basement

To help keep your basement dry and prevent flooding around your home, make sure the ground slopes away from your home’s foundation by at least 6” over the first 10’. In addition, consider having a sump pump installed in your basement to remove any groundwater that seeps inside.

In case water does find its way inside your basement, leave a 1/2″ to 1” gap between the bottom of the drywall and the basement floor to prevent moisture from wicking up the wallboard and causing mold to grow within the walls. Hide the gap with strips of wood molding or rubberized floor trim.

For added peace of mind, some home security companies, such as Brinks Broadview, include flood detection among the services offered.


Sewer Pipe
Backflow valves allow you to control overflow in your sewage pipes. (Shime02/Getty Images)

Tip #6: Install Sewer Backflow Valve

In flood prone areas, rising water may cause sewage to back up into your homes through the drainpipe. This not only can damage the interior of your home, but it is a health hazard as well.

To prevent this from happening, a backflow valve can be installed in the drain line. The valve has a flapper that closes automatically when needed, and may also include a manually operated valve for increased security.


Elevated AC
Protect your appliances outdoors from floods by elevating them. (AndreyPopov/Getty Images)

Tip #7: Protect HVAC Equipment and Appliances

Flooding can also damage furnaces and air conditioning units, so make sure any HVAC equipment in flood prone areas is installed above the level that water might reach. If HVAC equipment can’t be elevated, consider placing it inside a concrete or masonry block wall.

Electrical systems components—including service panels, meters, switches, and outlets—should all be raised one foot or more above the base flood elevation (BFE).

Washers and driers, especially those located in a basement or on the first floor of homes, should be placed on cinder blocks one foot above the BFE.

With the likelihood of increasing storms, hurricanes, and floods in the future; protecting your home from rising water and making sure your roof is in good condition are more important than ever.

Further Reading

4 COMMENTS

  1. We have just seen new FEMA updates on flood plains. What are some measures that a homeowner can take to prevent water from entering a home when water from lakes and rain start to flood properties?

  2. There’s been some flooding near where I live recently, so I’m hoping to prepare as much as I can in case that moves over to my area.
    Documenting my possessions for the potential need of future insurance claims is definitely a good idea, and to make sure that I have digital copies of those pictures and documentation in the cloud, because I have a lot of really nice antiques that my grandmother left me that I want to be covered.
    I’ll probably need to look for a storm damage repair service now so that I can have that on hand should the flooding come through, because while I do plan to use your tips to protect my home, the flooding can get pretty serious where I live.

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