Many people think that a flood cannot happen to them, but the truth is flooding occurs in every state. Heavy rains can quickly oversaturate the soil and overwhelm municipal and storm sewers. This can often result in large amounts of water pooling around foundations. Without proper maintenance, those floodwaters are likely to enter your home and cause extensive water damage. Learn what to do to prevent flooding and keep your home dry during heavy rainstorms.
Areas Most Likely to Flood During Heavy Rains
While any area can flood with enough rainfall, some areas are more prone to flooding. It should come as little surprise that all of these areas are either near bodies or water or are on lower ground than the surrounding area.
- Floodplains – The areas surrounding ocean, lakes, rivers, and streams are most prone to flooding during heavy rains.
- Valleys and Lowlands – Any area that slopes downward, like a valley or gully, is more likely to flood during heavy rains. This includes areas that are at or below sea level.
- Near Mountains – Even if the area is flat, water from heavy rains will flow down mountains or hills.
Reasons for Flooding Due to Heavy Rain
There are a multitude of reasons for flooding during heavy rains, however, most of them are related to drainage issues that result in water pooling around your foundation. Water can pool above ground or below ground and seep into your home through cracks or even directly through foundation walls.
How to Prevent Flooding Due to Heavy Rains
The best way to prevent flooding from heavy rains is with proper maintenance. Check your basement and crawlspace monthly for signs of water damage.
Limit Water Usage During Heavy Rains
This may seem weird, but one of the easiest ways to prevent flooding due to heavy rains is to limit your water usage. Heavy rainstorms can easily overwhelm municipal sewer systems. Taking a shower, running the dishwasher, or doing laundry will only make matters worse. The more water in the sewers, the greater the possibility of a sewage backup or flood. Whenever possible wait until the rain has stopped and water levels outside have returned to normal before resuming regular water usage.
Watch What You Send Down the Drain
While this may seem like another odd way to prevent flooding, using your drains properly will help prevent clogs that can lead to backups and floods. Some of the biggest causes of sewer clogs are caused by pouring coffee grounds, oil, starches, or grease down the drain. Not only can they clog your sewer lines, but also municipal sewers as well. Even if you have a garbage disposal, avoid sending anything down the drain that is larger than a pea. In the bathroom, use a drain catcher to prevent hair, soap, and other items from clogging your drains as well. Also, avoid using so-called flushable wet wipes, as they do not dissolve the same as regular toilet paper.
Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
While gutters and downspouts aren’t the actual cause of the flooding, they can allow water to pool around your foundation. This can allow water to enter your property through cracks or other issues with your foundation. Clean your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year or install gutter guards. Check your downspouts and make sure they channel water away from your home. Add downspout extensions if necessary to ensure water flows at least six feet away from your foundation.
Inspect Your Landscaping
Like gutters, landscaping doesn’t cause flooding, but it can hold water close to your foundation. Make sure the ground around your foundation slopes away from your property. Ideally, the grade should be at least six inches high and slope at least three feet away. Grass and other ground coverings should be well maintained around your foundation. Bushes and scrubs should be kept at least two feet from your foundation. Trees should be at least three feet away.
Fix Cracks and Gaps
If you have cracks or gaps in your foundation, fix them as soon as possible. Use hydraulic cement to patch cracks in the walls and floor. For the best seal, carve a “v” shape into the crack with a chisel or an angle grinder. Then seal the crack with an even layer of hydraulic cement. Use a trowel to firmly press it into the crack to ensure a good seal. An alternative to hydraulic cement is polyurethane caulk, however, it doesn’t form as good of a seal.
Install a Drainage System
Sump pumps are the most common type of drainage system, although there are other options as well. Sump pumps are installed in the basement or crawlspace floor and drain water from around the base of the foundation. Curtain drains or French drains are installed around there perimeter of your property just below ground. These type of drains channel water that is pooling above ground away from your foundation. Other drainage options are available too.
Foundations are waterproofed when they are built, but that coating only lasts for so long. If you notice water stains or efflorescence on your basement or crawlspace walls, you may need to have your foundation waterproofed again. Waterproofing can be done to the exterior or interior of your foundation walls. Interior waterproofing is usually cheaper, but exterior waterproofing provides better long term protection.
Is Flooding Covered By Insurance?
Insurance policies can be extremely confusing and there are often misconceptions about what is covered. Unfortunately, most standard insurance policies do not flood damage. In terms of insurance language, flooding includes any damage caused by water that touched the ground prior to entering your property. However, separate flood insurance is available in most areas. Annual premiums for flood insurance averages around $700 per year. We recommend that you review your insurance policy every year and contact your agent if you have any questions about your coverage.
The Basic Steps to Drying Out After Flooding
These are the basic steps to drying out after flooding. For more comprehensive instructions, review our drying our water damage guide. Additionally, use caution before entering any flooded area. If the water level is near or above electrical outlets, turn off the power to that area before stepping into the water. If you cannot safely access your electrical panel without walking through the water, contact your utility company to have the power turned off at the street first.
1. Extract Flood Waters
Depending on the depth of the water, you can use towels or a mop to soak it up. For anything more than a few inches of water, use either a pump to suck the water out or bail water out with a bucket. Ince you’ve removed the majority of the standing water, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove as much water from surfaces as possible.
2. Remove Items
Remove as many items from the flooded area. Start by removing important documents, artwork, and heirlooms, then move on to your personal items. Finish with large items like furniture. Depending on the extent of flooding, you may need to dispose of items both large and small. For small items that are damaged, use heavy-duty construction-style garbage bags. Avoid overloading them, as they can get heavy quickly. For furniture or carpeting that is completely ruined, carry them out to the curb as soon as possible to prevent mold from growing in your home. If there is structural damage, like damaged drywall or warped cabinets, remove those items as well.
3. Dry Out the Area
Once the area is clear, you need to dry it as quickly as possible to prevent additional damage and mold growth. Position fans and dehumidifiers throughout the area to promote airflow. Open cabinet and closet doors for more even drying. When drying wet carpeting, lift it up from the floor to decrease drying time. If possible, remove the carpeting completely and dry it outside. You will likely need to discard and replace the carpet padding, as it usually disintegrates when it gets wet. Review our drying wet carpeting guide for more detail. Once the area is dried, inspect for additional items that cannot be salvaged like drywall, carpeting, and cabinets.
4. Disinfect and Deodorize
Floodwaters are likely to contain a wide array of mold, bacteria, and parasites. Clean everything the floodwaters touched with a mild detergent to remove dirt and debris, then vacuum the area several times. Once the area is clean, spray a hospital-grade disinfectant on all surfaces. While a solution of bleach and water is also effective, the bleach can discolor many materials like fabric, carpeting, and even wood. To disinfect personal items, spray them with a disinfecting spray or wipe down no porous items with a mild solution of bleach and water. To deodorize after flooding, use baking soda. Sprinkle it on fabric, upholstery, and carpeting and allow it to sit for an hour, then vacuum it up. Repeat as necessary. In some cases, you may need to use commercial deodorizers on some items.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to rebuild the flooded area. This may be as simple as painting the room or relaying your carpeting. However, it may be more involved and require rebuilding certain areas. From hanging new drywall to installing new flooring or cabinets, the rebuilding phase can be time and labor intensive.
Get Professional Flood Damage Restoration Help Now
Restoration Local is the #1 network of restoration contractors in the country. If you have flood damage or any other type of water damage, use our directory to find a local water damage company now. For emergency water extraction services, call 1-888-443-3110 now to speak to our on-call water damage contractor in your area. Our on-call water damage companies offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response, and a free estimate on all water removal services.