January 12 2014

Top 3 Things To Check To Avoid A Home Flood This January

It used to be that you could pretty well predict where floods were likely to happen. Certain places were prone to it and other places were not. But in recent years the weather pretty much everywhere has been totally crazy and it’s possible to have your home (or business) flooded almost anywhere.

Floods traditionally come from overflowing rivers but they can also come from torrential rains and/or due to moderately heavy rains in areas that have inadequate drainage systems. Any way it happens, excess and unwanted water in the house can really mess up your life. There are some precautions you can take, however, to either prevent flooding or mitigate its effects on or within your home.

First of all…. if you’re building a home, build it on the highest ground possible. Check local weather history, newspaper archives, and with relevant government agencies to find out what the highest water level have ever been in your area and then be sure your home is above that.

This won’t always be possible but it is a possibility if changing weather patterns have caused changes in what constitutes ‘prime’ real-estate. Areas that might not have been desirable years ago might be better choices now.

Secondly, there are two other flood proofing methods for homes that work well for most people and in most instances. One is called Dry Flood proofing and the term basically refers to barriers, usually sandbags, around your house that act as a barrier to keep water out.

There’s a limit to how much water a wall of sandbags will keep out. The strength of your flood barrier depends on the height and depth of your sandbag wall. Obviously, stronger walls require more work… most of which is predominantly manual.

Another type of Dry Flood proofing involves coating the vulnerable parts of your house, such as the exterior walls, the interior walls (up to the expected maximum flood levels) with some kind of water-impervious substance. The idea is that the water won’t go through it so… it stops. One benefit of this type of flood proofing is that it’s a way of letting the water get access to the house but not actually permeate any of its structural parts (like waterproofing the leather on your shoes).

Third as a means of protecting your home from flooding is called wet flood proofing. Wet flood proofing consists of allowing enough water into the home in order to equalize hydrostatic pressure between the inside of the home and the outside (where the water came from). This is a technique, which, in a sense, compromises with the flood waters in order to prevent more serious damage to the house and/or contents.

It presumes that you’ve been able to move furniture and appliances up above or away from where you anticipate the water will be. Allowing some water to come into the come tends to equalize the hydrostatic pressure between the inside and outside of the house. You may or may not have waterproofed your walls and/or floors with some kind of chemical (as mentioned above) but the technique does prevent the home walls from collapsing due to pressure from the water outside.

Obviously, any of these methods are a lot of work and you’re always going to have to contend with signs of the flood in several ways, but again, the primary objective is to prevent or mitigate (i.e. lessen as much as possible) water damage from flooding.
In Summary:

  • Avoid the problem altogether by not living in areas that get flooded
  • Waterproof your home by erecting some sort of barrier to keep water out (e.g. sandbags)
  • Waterproof your home by moving movable property out of harm’s way and then protecting the structural members and elements of the house (e.g. walls) with various types of waterproof coatings.

Those are your options but it’s never a bad idea to discuss such a thing with your insurance person locally and/or with your neighbors who might have more experience than you in such a matter.