If you live in an area prone to heavy rainfall, taking proactive steps to prevent flooding in your home can save you lots of money and frustration. An ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of cure, so here are some key preparations to take to protect your home from flooding.
Starting on top
The first line of defense against water penetration is a healthy roof. Over the course of a year, the elements can take their toll on your roof. Extreme cold in winter and heat in summer can cause thermal shock that cracks shingles. Flashing can pull loose, and squirrels and raccoons can chew openings to get into your attic. Have your roof inspected annually to catch these problems before rain can cause damage inside. The inspector should also look over the chimney for cracks or a loose cap that lets water in.
Another important step in preventing floods is keeping your gutters cleaned out, especially after the falling leaves and acorns of autumn. When gutters get clogged and overflow, water can damage the fascia and soffit boards of your eaves. Consider adding gutter screens. To ensure downspouts are not clogged, spray water onto the roof with a garden hose and observe how freely the water comes out of them. Add extensions to downspouts to carry water farther from the base of the house.
Prevent flooding from doors and windows
At least once per year, inspect the caulk around windows and weather stripping around doors as part of your efforts to prevent flooding. If caulk and/or paint have aged and cracked, repair and repaint to keep wood fresh and weatherproofed.
Rising water on your property
More serious home flooding begins outside your house. Heavy rainfall can cause nearby creeks and streams to burst their banks and flood homes. Here are flood prevention steps you can take to protect your home.
Make sure that the ground immediately adjacent to your house slopes away from your foundation to prevent water ponding there during heavy rains. If needed, spread soil around the foundation, sloping it away from the house. Plant grass or use landscape materials to hold the soil in place.
Study your property for low-lying areas prone to ponding water after substantial rainfall. If you find standing water, talk to a landscape professional about installing French drains, which carry the water away from the house to the street or other areas of relief.
If your area is prone to serious flooding that could overwhelm these measures to prevent flooding, have sandbags on hand for emergencies.
Indoor measures to prevent flooding
If you have a basement, install a sump pump to remove water that seeps in. Be sure to get one with a battery backup in case of power failure.
An inexpensive way to catch water encroachment anywhere in the house is to purchase water detection alarms. These are available at a wide range of prices. Place them anywhere water could show up: under sinks and in the laundry room, attic and basement. You’ll be alerted at the first sign of water.
A word about flood insurance
Homeowners insurance will generally not cover damage from rising water coming into your house. That type of coverage must be purchased through an agent participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, which is overseen by the federal government. Homeowners insurance generally will cover water damage if a storm rips part of your roof away and rain pours in. It will also usually cover damage to a sudden burst pipe. Because insurance coverage may not fully reimburse you for damage, however, preventative steps against flooding are crucial.
Related – What to Do After Your Home Floods