In the U.S. where thunderstorms, heavy rains, and flashfloods are common, it is important to understand the steps you can take to protect your home and family from water damage. Just one inch of floodwater can cause more than $20,000 of damage in an average sized home, so it is critical that you are prepared.
The best way to avoid damage from flooding is to follow a regular maintenance schedule and keep storm drains clear at all times. By performing regular storm drain checks at least twice per year, you greatly reduce your chances of water damage from a rainstorm or flashflood.
Tips for flood prevention include:
- Clean gutters regularly, keep them free of leaves and other debris.
- Check storm drains near your home or business and remove any debris, including leaves, plastic bags and trash bags.
- If needed, use a screwdriver to remove storm drain covers. Use your hands or a small garden trowel to remove any debris blocking the drain.
- After removing debris, scrub the inside of the drain with cleanser and a brush. This will ensure incoming water can drain as quickly as possible.
- Make sure outdoor drains, including window wells and basement stairwells are clean and functional.
Repairing Flood Damage:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends if your home has been hit by a flood and requires repair, that you consider making the following upgrades to break the endless storm damage-repair cycle faced by many homeowners in low lying areas prone to flooding.
- Install a sewer backflow valve to prevent sewage from backing up into the house.
- Elevate water heaters, furnaces, washers and dryers at least six inches above basement floors or move them to an upper floor. Use a licensed contractor when making plumbing or electrical changes.
- Raise electrical panel boxes, switches, and outlets at least one foot above the 100-year flood level. For help in determining the 100-year flood level in your area, check with local officials.
- Cut drywall to at least one-half inch above the floor, especially in basements. Concrete floors commonly absorb ground moisture, which travels up the wallboard allowing mold to grow unseen within the walls. Seal the gap between the wallboard and the floor with wood or rubberized floor trim.
- Anchor a fuel tank by securing it to a large concrete slab or to ground anchors using metal straps.
- Add waterproof veneer to exterior walls and seal all openings, including doors.
- Use flood-resistant building materials – materials that can withstand direct contact with floodwaters for at least 72 hours without being significantly damaged. These building materials are available at many home improvement stores.
- Build interior and exterior floodwalls. A watertight masonry floodwall can be constructed to enclose furnaces, utilities and appliances on the lowest floor of the building. On the outside, a similar wall could be constructed around the perimeter of the basement opening to keep water from entering.