Statistics show that your home is more likely to incur damage from a flood than from a fire. In fact, floods are the leading natural disaster in the United States. From 2010 to 2014 the average insurance claim for flood damage exceeded $40,000. These numbers prove that any steps you can take toward effectively flood-proofing your home may pay off substantially if and when your house becomes the next statistic. Here are some benefits of flood-proofing:
- Flood-proofing is an effective sales tool if you decide to sell your home. It may even mean a higher resale value.
- If your home has already suffered flood damage, flood-proofing measures can be easily included in the repair and remediation process, effectively keeping costs down.
- While steps to flood-proof your home won’t make it possible to remain in the house during the flood event, clean-up and repair afterwards will be expedited.
A viable flood-proofing strategy evaluates your exposure risk and effective preventive measures from five areas:
If your home is in a high-risk flood zone, the most definitive measure to prevent damage may be to elevate the structure off the foundation and above the expected flood level. In most flood-prone areas, there are contractors who specialize in this service. Typically the structure will be lifted off the existing foundation with jacks, then a new, elevated foundation is constructed beneath it.
Sometimes, particularly in coastal areas prone to storms or rivers that seasonally flood, simply moving to higher ground is the best step you can take to eliminate the potential of serious water damage. Where floodwaters of six feet or more can occur, purchasing another lot elsewhere and relocating the home is often the most cost-effective measure. Most homes are structurally sound enough to be moved by qualified contractors and the service is widely available, particularly in flood-prone regions.
Walls, berms, and levees can be installed to prevent rising waters from reaching your home. Walls are typically constructed of concrete block while berms and levees are formed by mounds of fill dirt. A barrier layout may totally encircle the house on all sides, or simply enclose the side facing the lowest point in the lot, then extend up to higher ground above expected water levels. If you opt to build concrete walls, internal reinforcement and resilient anchoring will be necessary to resist the pressure of surging floodwater currents.
Sealing and Waterproofing
Water that never enters the house can’t cause damage. Keeping it out involves waterproofing exterior walls with plastic or rubber sheeting, locating and sealing structural cracks and gaps, leak-proofing doors and windows, and making sure walls can resist the pressure of outside floodwaters several feet deep. Generally, sealing and waterproofing is not sufficient to protect homes with basements from flooding.
Sometimes it’s best to accept that floodwater may inundate the home. Make sure building materials and construction methods at affected levels are water-resistant and designed to incur minimal damage. These areas should be furnished with light, inexpensive furniture, and not include HVAC equipment, water heaters, or major appliances. The main electrical panel should also be located on an upper level. If you’re already involved in flood damage remediation, wet flood-proofing measures are easily integrated into the recovery and repair process.