How can I prevent my home from flooding?

Every home has some level of risk for flooding. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, all 50 states have experienced some amount of flooding in the past five years. However, flash floods and natural disasters aren’t the only things that can cause a home to flood.

Leaky pipes, a broken water main, appliance malfunctions, and other unexpected household problems can also lead to flooding. There are things you can do lower your risk and minimize damage if flooding does happen at your home. These eight steps will help you keep the water out and protect your valuables.

  1. Repair Leaks Immediately

    Leaky pipes and roofs let water into your home and can cause significant damage. Watch for wet spots on the ceiling and pooling water in the basement. Examine pipes regularly, looking for problems like rust, visible drops of water, and buckling. If you find a leak, fix it as soon as possible.

  2. Keep Gutters Clean

    Clogged rain gutters and downspouts can cause water to pool and back up around your foundation. Make rain gutter maintenance part of your spring and fall routines. Remove leaves from gutters and add leaf guards to keep debris from building up. For extra protection from pooled water, add downspout extenders that can direct water up to 10 feet away from your house.

  3. Cover Window Wells

    Basement window wells often trap rain and groundwater. Even if you have newer windows, the extra protection offered by window well covers is worth it. Installing them is fairly inexpensive and simple to do and, if you choose covers made of clear acrylic, your basement will still get plenty of light.

  4. Check the Grade

    Make sure water moves away from your house, rather than directly to it. The soil surrounding your home should angle away from the foundation and toward the yard. Check the grade of your surrounding soil and add soil as needed to achieve a slope of at least one quarter inch per foot.

  5. Fill in the Cracks

    Foundation cracks let water in, which can lead to flooding and weaken the structure of your home. A small amount of cracking is normal for foundations, but repairing these cracks can help prevent major problems down the line.

    If you spot a small crack, use a concrete patching paste to fill it in. If you’re concerned about bigger problems, bring in an expert to evaluate any damage and recommend a solution.

  6. Mind Trees

    Trees with aggressive root systems can wreak havoc on your foundation, which makes your home vulnerable to flooding. Plant troublesome trees like maples, aspens, and white fir trees 10 to 20 feet from your home. If you already have a tree that is too close, look at getting it removed to help avoid future trouble.

  7. Raise It Up

    Sometimes, despite all precautions, water still gets in homes. In the event this does happen, you want to have your appliances and electronics out of harm’s way. You can do this by simply keeping them raised off the floor by at least a few inches. Some washers and dryers come with pedestals that keep them off the floor, but you can also purchase the pedestals separately. If you’re handy, you can build a platform for appliances you want to keep dry in the event of flooding.

  8. Waterproof Valuables

    In addition to keeping valuables in locked containers, it’s smart to waterproof them as well. Items like passports and birth certificates should be placed in waterproof cases while stored. Ziploc-style bags may seem like a good idea, but important documents will keep better in containers specifically designed to withstand flooding.

Preventing flooding and water leaks requires diligence and forethought. These tips and guidelines can help you keep water damage at bay.

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