How to Prevent Flooding in Your Home: 10 Ways to Try (updated 2022)
Water gushing through your home can wreak untold havoc on your property. This threat is posed by stormwater, floods, or plumbing issues. If you live in a flood zone area, this risk is greatly increased.
What can you do against the unforeseen or unstoppable forces of nature? How about flood damage as a result of a blocked drain or another plumbing disaster?
First things first, consider preventative measures to prevent flooding in your home or business (we’ll cover this and more within this post). Also, protect yourself and your property with flood insurance. Many people are unaware of what their homeowner’s insurance policy covers. Will it cover water damage from an overflowing bathtub or sink? What about damage from a natural disaster, storm, or hurricane?
As leading experts in home damage and restoration options, we recommend these steps to minimize or prevent flood damage.
Read more: How to stop basement flooding
1. Get Technical
One of the advantages of technology are the constant developments that result in protective measures for your home. One way to prevent flood damage is to install flood detection or water sensor systems. These alarms, sensors, and systems will detect water early, notifying you of troublesome leaks or water in your business or home.
Experts like those at All Dry USA can help install these systems directly into your smart home or home security set-up. This will give you the earliest notification of pending damage so you can stop the water in its tracks.
2. Regular Testing
Your home sump pump should be tested regularly. A sump pump is equipped to detect rising water pressure or levels in the pump system. If the water gets too high, the pump will automatically remove the excess water away from the property through a discharge line and to a designated drainage area.
When you regularly test the sump pump and ensure it is in proper working order, you will know it is removing water at an adequate rate. This is especially important during heavy rains when water is weighing heavily on the system. You can also install a battery backup, so if there is a power outage, your sump pump will continue operating without power. Some sump pump systems will arrive with a battery backup integrated.
3. Clean the Ditches and Drains
While fall is beautiful, those falling leaves can spell a debris pile-up in your yard that flushes into sewage drains or blocks drainage paths. The same can be said if you have other debris or mulch in the yard.
The best approach is to regularly rake the yard, bag the leaves, and set them out for pick-up. Inspect any storm drains to make sure they are clear of debris, mulch, and leaves. Make sure to remove any visible blockage in the storm drains. If it is a severe blockage, you will need to contact your county/city sewer or water department.
4. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
It’s often that cleaning the gutters is the one task that always stays on the to-do list and never receives that checkmark of completion. In the interest of protecting your home against flood damage, you will want to check it off at least once a year. You will need to clean gutters and downspouts more frequently if you have a lot of trees near your home.
However, you do have options to clean the gutters! You can:
- Use a leaf blower
- Get hands-on with gloves and a hose with high water pressure
- Outsource the efforts and hire a landscaping or lawn professional
Keeping the gutters and downspouts clear ensures water has a path to follow rather than overflowing and completely taking the gutters out.
5. Improve Drainage and Grading
After a solid rain, take the time to investigate around your home for any problem areas. You will want to note any accumulated water around the home and where it is, especially near the foundation.
Ideally, the ground around the foundation of your business or home should slope away from the structure. This gives the water a place to flow away from the base of the building. If this is not the case, you may need to install drainage in those troublesome areas to redirect the water away during heavy downpours.
6. Reinforce the Foundation
At least once a year, inspect your foundation for cracks or seal openings where water might make its way in. Seal openings may include openings around windows, doors, exhaust penetrations, and utilities. Both seal openings and foundation cracks should be promptly addressed. This could be done by sealing foundation cracks with mortar or masonry caulk or replacing seals.
7. Get to the Basement
During these home inspections, do not overlook the basement windows. These windows are close to the ground, and any weaknesses here can quickly lead to a flooded basement.
Improve the water-resistance of low-level windows by ensuring they are properly caulked and sealed. If the windows are older, it is worth considering a complete replacement. Newer windows will have a better seal and can reduce the possibility of water finding its way inside. On the plus side, new windows can also assist in increasing energy efficiency.
8. Examine the Drains
It stands to reason that if water cannot be drained properly, it will simply continue to rise until a sink is overflowing or a bathroom becomes an indoor pool. Regular inspections and cleaning of the drains will help prevent this.
If your current drainage system does not have one-way valves for backflow prevention, now might be the time to consider them. Always have these installed by a licensed plumber. These valve types will prevent sewer backups from reappearing in your home, which means you will not see any nasty sludge rising from the drains even if your system is overloaded.
9. Install Flood Barriers and Skirts
Much of this advice revolves around drainage and small-scale flooding, but what about natural disasters? What do you do in the face of a hurricane or unprecedented storm surge?
One step against nature would be to install flood barriers or skirts around doors, windows, and air bricks. These are designed to flood proof your home and keep rising water at bay. Think of it as a small-scale dam to seal doorways and entrances and prevent rising water from entering. These barriers are often reusable and can be quickly placed in an emergency.
10. Keep Sandbags on Hand
Another tried and true method to fight off flooding are sandbags. If you have rising water approaching your structure, sandbags may be a preventative measure. Place them around areas likely to flood, especially vulnerable points like low windows or doorways. If you are in a high flood risk area or flood plain, it is a good idea to keep sandbags on hand.
We also recommend acquainting yourself with your risk level. This FEMA Flood Map can show you if you are in a flood zone and lets you explore your area’s flooding history. Always note the year the flood map was made so you can determine if this is relevant or outdated information.
Flood levels are the height at which waters could possibly rise during inclement weather, and ideally, your home will be above this level. If it is not, it is especially important to follow the measures here, keep sandbags on hand, and maintain contact with professionals and insurance coverage.
Some of the zones you will see on this map include:
- Blue Zones: This represents areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and are likely to have damaging floods at least once a century. It is considered a high-risk zone, and you should have ample flood protection measures in place.
- Orange Zones: These are areas with a 0.2% annual chance of flooding – which translates to significant flooding about once every 500 years. Your flood insurance rates will likely be lower, but normal threats like leaks still exist.
- Yellow Zones: These areas have an undetermined flood risk. The best step to take here is to research the area’s flood history, talk to neighbors, and ensure the property is built to withstand flooding.
- Blue with Red Stripes: These flood areas are often located near a river and floodplain and will be kept clear to allow drainage from the nearby zones. However, if your house is in the regulatory floodways, you will need to take extensive precautions against flooding.
Final Tips and Advice
If your concerted efforts are thwarted by mother nature and flooding is imminent, follow this advice to minimize water and flood damage.
- Disconnect the water line if this is the source of the flooding
- Clear drains and gutters to allow water to flow freely
- Place sandbags to block vulnerable areas or gaps
- Move furniture, rugs, electronics, and other valuable to a higher floor or elevate them
- Shut off electricity from the breaker panel, especially if water is close to the electrical system
- If the rain has ceased, open windows to promote airflow
- Engage the sump pump or use a shop vacuum to begin removing water
- Document via pictures or videos to provide evidence of flood damage to share with your flood insurance provider for your damages claim
In the face of nature and unforeseen emergencies, even your best efforts may still leave some damage to address. If you have experienced flood damage or are simply preparing for the worst, let experts at All Dry USA help advise and support you. The aftermath of a heavy rain can be a busy time for home restoration experts like us, so contact us early. Building a relationship now can help get you answers and help later.