Protecting Your Home From Flooding

We can’t always prevent flooding from causing damage to our home, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try a bit of preventative maintenance. Of course, having a solid California flood insurance policy is a must.

Here are a few things you can do to lessen the impact of flood waters.

Understand Your Risk

A FEMA Flood map shows the flood zones and boundaries as well as base flood elevations for your area. You simply enter your address to access your map. It shows you whether your property has a minimal, possible, or high risk of flooding. Any building within a 100-year floodplain is at high-risk. However, this map is only your starting point.

Also ask your home insurer for a copy of your property’s C.L.U.E. ® Report. It documents any water-related claims for the property. If this is not available to you, ask your neighbors.

Order a Property Inspection

Professional home inspectors have the training experience you need to properly evaluate your property’s resistance to flood waters.

California law prohibits unethical home inspection practices and using a certified agent from the American Society of Home Inspectors ensures the inspection meets the required standards of care. A professional home inspector can pinpoint areas where water infiltration could be an issue so you can fortify your property.

Elevate HVAC Equipment, Electrical & Hot Water

Typically, you’ll find this equipment in the lowest level of a building. This means it is very susceptible to flood damage. If you live in a minimal risk area building a platform to raise the level might offer sufficient protection from flood waters.

Install a Backwater Valve

If the elevation of the lowest drain on your property is lower than street level, you may need to hire a licensed plumber to install a backwater valve.

A backwater value stops storm water from entering your home when the sewer system reaches capacity after a rainfall. Installation may require a plumbing permit and inspection after installation, but it can prevent extensive damage from street floods after heavy rains.

Regrade the Property

Under normal circumstances a property’s grade can handle rainwater. However, living in flood-prone areas can call for more drastic measures.

Increasing the slope of the property reduces the risk of water intrusion. Digging swales around the perimeter of the building can also direct storm water away. Properties with compacted soil or water puddling near a building foundation require attention during normal rainfall, never mind a deluge.

Clear Gutters, Extend Downspouts, Install a Dry Well

Clean gutter systems carry water off the roof into the yard. However, many people do not perform regular maintenance and they become clogged with debris. Clean the gutters annually to prevent this problem.

Additionally, downspouts may not direct water far enough away from the structure. Extend the downspout so that water flows away from the building and use whatever pipe length you need so it does not weep back towards the foundation.

A dry well is a perforated plastic barrel with an open bottom. It is simple to install and directs large amounts of downspout water through the ground and away from the structure.

Install a Sump Pump & Flood Alarm

Sump pumps switch on automatically when groundwater rises. They can divert thousands of gallons of water away from a structure to prevent water damage.

Installing a sump pump normally requires professionals, since it involves choosing the appropriate pump type for the property, digging holes and burying the discharge line leading to weeping tiles around the perimeter of the building. You may also want a battery-powered backup in case the property loses power.

A flood alarm is very similar to a fire alarm, but for water. They’re relatively inexpensive, automatically emit an audible tone, and can dial emergency numbers.

Buy Flood Insurance

If you live in a high-risk area or your lender demands it, you must buy flood insurance. However, flooding can occur anywhere and up to 25 percent of claims originate in areas outside of high-risk zones. The risk of flooding continues to increase, so it is now recommended coverage for renters, homeowners and businesses, because standard insurance policies do not cover flooding.

Contact your insurance agent. They will check whether you live in a National Flood Insurance Program community and can explain coverage and exclusions to ensure you’re properly protected. Most insurers offer additional coverage if you need it, as NFIP limits may not offer sufficient protection.