With the beginning of spring, some of the country is finally thawing out and starting to see the first signs of the season. While the warmer temperatures and flowers are welcomed, one part of spring that no one looks forward to is flooding. While flooding can occur at any time of year, the spring is a particularly troublesome time of year as snow and ice melts and seasonal rains begin. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, flooding causes more damage than any other weather-related event, averaging eight billion dollars in losses and 89 fatalities annually.
As part of this week’s National Flood Safety Awareness Week hosted by NOAA, the Insurance Institute for Building & Home Safety (IBHS) suggests several improvement projects, and last-minute actions (with two accompanying infographics), for homeowners to help protect their property against flood damage this season. IBHS has additional flooding property protection resources on its website at: www.DisasterSafety.org/Flood.
Home Improvement Projects
- Raise Electrical System Components – Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE) for your area. You can find out your property’s BFE by contacting your local building department. Raising electrical system components above the anticipated flood level will help prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid the potential for fire from short circuits in flooded systems.
- Raise Or Floodproof HVAC Equipment – Floodwaters can extensively damage heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) equipment. The extent of the damage depends upon the depth of flooding and how long the equipment is underwater. A good way to protect the HVAC equipment is to have a contractor move it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.
- Direct Water Away from Building – Make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
- Anchor fuel tanks – Unanchored fuel tanks outside your home can damage your building or be swept downstream, damaging other properties. The supply line to an unanchored tank in your basement also can tear free and fuel can contaminate your basement.
- Install Sewer Backflow Valves – Flooding in some areas can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up through drain pipes. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow into the house.
- Protect Wells From Contamination By Flooding – Floodwater that enters a well can contaminate it and make the water unsafe to drink. A licensed well-drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.
In addition, when a flood is forecast for your area, IBHS recommends homeowners take these last-minute actions to protect their property against flood damage:
- Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
- Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and on first floor levels.
- Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store them on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
- Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
- Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
- Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.