April 02 2014

The Snow is Melting!

Protecting Your Commercial Structure From Flood Damage

The departure of a rough winter is good news for everybody but the danger isn’t over yet. Warming weather and melting snow bring their own unique danger…..lots of water from all that melting ice. Depending upon where commercial property is situated relative to melting water runoff, this time of the year can be even more dangerous that winter itself and this kind of flood damage is still considered a ‘flood’ so it is not covered by many types of standard commercial property insurance.

That means it’s up to the property owner to mitigate as much a possible, so…. what’s the best approach?

First of all, be aware of the degree of risk you might be in by paying attention to any type of weather advisories which pertain to temperature and the possibility of melting ice or snow. If you’re near a stream or river, that could be a factor too as the ice on the river or stream melts and the river might begin to flow much faster. Also be cognizant of past flooding history in your area.

Assuming your business has to be where it is and there is likely possibility of damage from melting ice or snow, there are some things you can do even then. It’s possible to put waterproof membranes (AKA: “Dry Flood-proofing”) around the outside of your building….. something like a waterproof coating for the building. This will only work for water depths up to around 3 feet. Any greater depth than that cause excessive pressure that most building can’t withstand. Also don’t expect this to be a long range solution if you’ve got very porous soil and the water remains around your building for any great length of time. The water will soak through the soil.

Does your building have a basement? If so, you’d better check it for cracks that subterranean water could seep through. Sometimes a small stream of water can escalate into a torrential flood if it’s able to erode the basement structural material.

You can and should install backflow valves on your water pipes, you should firmly anchor any outside propane or fuel-oil tanks, and, if you have a well for your water supply, see what you can do to protect it. Sometimes it’s possible to insulate it or seal it against outside contamination.

Other than these precautionary measures, you also want to be sure you’ve got the best insurance possible and be sure that you have some sort of contingency plans so that your business can continue at least some degree of operation in the event of severe flooding problems from melting snow or ice.