Preventing Flooding Due to Heavy Rain
Disasters happen. That’s life. How you handle them is the mark of your character and intelligence.
First, don’t pretend that a flood can’t happen to you. Everybody’s at risk. Everybody, at least according to FEMA, is at risk. It’s just a matter of how high a risk. You may not live in an area of the country that is prone to heavy rains, but changing weather patterns have been goofy lately, sending surprises to people who thought they were safe. So even if you live on high ground in Death Valley, it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to prevent flood damage due to a heavy rain from occurring in the first place.
Preventative measures run the gamut from super expensive to affordable, common sense precautions.
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Let’s take a look at your options:
- In a flood-prone area, homeowners might consider raising the level of their homes. Think of coastline vacation homes built on stilts, for example. Building on a solid pier foundation is costly, as is raising a pre-existing home, but it does get your home above flood level due to a heavy rain.
- If that’s not in your budget, consider covering interior walls with a waterproof sealant. These sealants are applied like paint and are commonly used on cinderblock basement walls. Surprisingly effective, this is an affordable do-it-yourself project for most homeowners.
- Simpler and more affordable still, how about following your Dad’s advice to make sure you have appropriate rain gutters and, as importantly, keeping your gutters clean? Even if you don’t want to climb up on that ladder yourself, hiring someone to do the job once or twice a year is a good investment in keeping your gutters clear of clogging debris and in keeping rainwater out of your home. Adding downspouts and splash pads will increase the efficiency of gutters by channeling the flow of water even further from the foundation.
- Sandbags are another option. If you’re new to an area where sandbagging is commonly used, it’s important to understand the method behind it. The purpose of sandbagging is to divert the flow of the water; it is not meant to be a barricade around your home. If done incorrectly sandbags may have unintended results, such as keeping water close to your home’s foundations. Think of a moat. Before you use sandbags, check the grading of your yard around your home. Be sure to place sandbags where they will divert the flow of water away from your home.
- Related to the last point, having your lot graded is often the best solution to prevent flooding in your home due to heavy rain. To prevent water from seeping into your basement, it’s recommended that a lot be graded to a ten foot perimeter around your home employing a six inch downhill slope away from your home’s foundation. It’s a good idea to check with local officials regarding permits on this one.
- Within your home, consider investing in a sump pump. A sump pump is a small pump that drains water from the interior of the structure to the exterior through a small pipe. They generally cost anywhere from $85.00 to over $350.00. Get one that has a battery backup option since flooding due to heavy rain is often accompanied by electrical outages. There’s not much point in purchasing a sump pump if it’s not going to work when you need it. Home improvement stores carry models with battery backup for about $210.00.
- Another interior modification to consider adding is a backflow protection device (BFP). A BFP protects potable water systems from potential hazards. If you live in an area with municipal wastewater systems, a heavy rainfall sometimes overwhelms the system causing sewage to back up into homes. Also known as a Black Water damage event, it is the most serious of the categories of water damage and can be very costly to clean up and restore. To prevent this, a backflow protection device is designed to prevent the untreated sewage from entering your home. Be aware, however, that when a BFP is in use you must not use your toilet, dishwasher, washing machine or other appliances that discharge wastewater into your sewer service line. The cost of a typical BFP device designed for residential use ranges from $100.00 to $600.00 with most models coming in at about $250.00. Installing it might be a project for a knowledgeable Do-It-Yourselfer. However, check with your local government officials. Sometimes building codes require installation by a licensed plumber. In that case, add another $25.00 to $250.00 to have it installed. Each year 10,000 cases of back-flow contamination are reported. Those are ten thousand families who almost certainly wished they had invested in a BFP device. Imagine the heartache of having to throw out everything in your basement because it has been irredeemably contaminated with fecal material: furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics, family photos, etc. If you’re the kind of person who thinks with your head more than your heart, do the math: the purchase and installation of a BFP, which might add up to about $500.00 versus a $7,800.00-$26,000.00 price tag on a Category 3 Black Water cleanup fee.
- Purchase flood insurance. Check policies carefully. Costly, yes in most instances, and it won’t prevent the flood, but it will help you sleep better.
While you may not be able to completely prevent flooding due to heavy rain, by following some of the tips offered above you can greatly improve your chances of staying dry.
If you experience water damage, we’re here to help. Call 24/7 for a free estimate at 1-888-443-3110.