April 1, 2014
How to Flood Proof Your Home
But there’s one thing we haven’t discussed yet: proactive and preventative measures. Being prepared and disaster kits are important, but they are responses for AFTER a flood hits. What if you want to make them a last resort?
That’s where flood proofing makes a difference. There are a number of ways to flood proof. Some methods are more difficult than others, and some are more expensive, however, even the simplest attempt at flood proofing can protect your home from severe damage.
Analyze the Landscape
The first step to flood proofing your home is to objectively analyze the landscape surrounding your home. Here are some techniques that will help you with this process:
- After it rains, walk all the way around your home and take note of where large puddles accumulated. The closer they are to your home, the more likely they can cause flooding.
- Are there slopes? Do you sit up- or downhill?
- If your home is sitting at the bottom of a hill, without any surrounding downhill slopes, you may have to grade the land. This is the process of creating manmade slopes that channel water away.
- If you are a gardener, after you watering, pay attention to the flow to make sure it isn’t running towards your home.
Flood Proofing the Exterior
After you know the landscape of your home and possible risk factors, begin flood proofing by making changes to the exterior.
- Clean the gutters. This should be a routine, but many people just don’t do it. This is an easy and effective method to divert water away from your home. If you don’t have gutters, you might want to consider digging a drainage system.
- Don’t forget to clean the downspouts, which are connected to the bottom of gutters and move water away from the home’s foundation. It’s important to clear any debris to make sure the water flow is not impeded.
- Create barriers around the perimeter. This is more intensive than cleaning gutters, but barriers made of sandbags, dirt, concrete or steel can slow, even completely halt, an oncoming flood.
Flood Proofing the Interior
After preparing the outside of your home for a flood, it’s time to strengthen the interior. There are two primary ways to do this: dry flood proofing and wet flood proofing.
The goal of dry flood proofing is to keep flood waters completely out of your home.
- Coat the walls and floors of your home’s foundation with waterproof sealants, or place plastic sheeting on them.
- Doors and windows below the flood levels also need to be sealed or blocked.
However, dry flood proofing is not an adequate solution for some homes. It’s only suitable for structurally sound buildings on slab foundations, without a basement or cellar. Also bear in mind that most buildings cannot withstand pressure from more than three feet of water, so if a severe flood is predicted, dry flood proofing is not the best option.
Wet flood proofing your home is the better choice in these situations because it actually allows some water to enter, balancing the pressure inside and outside. It seems counterintuitive, but it can decrease the overall damage to your house.
- The most effective way wet flood proof is to rebuild the flood prone area, such as the basement or cellar, using waterproof materials. Replace drywall and wood with concrete.
- Move valuable items and appliances to higher levels or elevate them above the floor.
Elevate Your Home
If wet- or dry- flood proofing wasn’t what you had in mind, there is another option: elevate your home. It’s by far the most expensive method and requires plenty of manpower, but what better way to protect a home from flooding than to raise it above the danger?
The best way to do this is to place the house on a fill or on an open foundation that will allow floodwaters to flow underneath.
Be Prepared for a Flood
Hopefully, no one has to ever experience a flood, but the reality is that no one is immune – floods can occur anywhere. Floods are scary, dangerous situations, especially if you’re unprepared. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself, such as following the many tips we’ve provided on this blog. Be prepared, be alert, and stay safe.