Did you know that your home may benefit from flood insurance if any of the following apply?
- There’s construction or development in your neighborhood
- Your property or neighborhood is mostly pavement
- Your home is on an incline
- You don’t live at the highest point in your area
The frequency and severity of flood occurrences in the United States has been on the rise in recent years. The question is why that may be the case. There are a few reasons that come into play, including changing storm and precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and increased development. Since flooding is not solely a risk for homes in high hazard areas anymore, consider these tips to reduce your home’s risk of flooding.
How to help reduce your risk: outside the home
Upgrade your landscaping to minimize runoff.
If your yard, either back or front, tilt towards your home, there is a good chance water can accumulate around your home and pose a risk of water damage. One way to minimize the risk to your home is by installing a rain garden to collect rainwater runoff from areas on your property such as roofs or driveways.
Minimize the use of water-resistant surfaces around your home.
Materials such as asphalt or concrete are impermeable surfaces that only repel water, pushing the water to storm sewers during powerful rainstorms. Look to incorporate plants in your landscape that help water seep into the ground or use a porous pavement instead, all while making sure to grade landscaping away from your home’s foundation.
Elevate utilities and service equipment.
Consider having your larger exterior utilities and equipment, such as generators or air conditioners, elevated above flood level with either concrete blocks or other study surfaces.
Keep your gutters clean to help maintain proper drainage.
Stay up to date with having your gutters cleaned biannually, typically in fall and spring. While removing debris and leaves, you should also inspect your rain gutters for leaks, cracks, or damage.
How to help reduce your risk: inside the home
Seal any cracks in your home’s foundation.
This is very important in places like basements or garages where water can typically be an issue and may require consultation with an engineer or waterproofing expert. Materials such as mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement are preferable for sealing but a qualified consultant should be able to advise you of the best remedial measures to take for your situation.
Install flood vents if your home does not currently have them.
Flood vents, or something called foundation vents, can help protect your home during a flood by alleviating pressure buildup. These small openings allow water to flow freely through enclosed spaces in your home, such as a garages or crawl spaces, instead of collecting in it. Without these, the water pressure buildup can be so intense that it could destroy both walls and foundations.
Purchase a sump pump.
Sump pumps are a necessity when it comes to removing water from your home and transferring it outside. Make sure to have it serviced 2x a year at minimum so that you can be confident it will function properly should you need it. Also consider having a battery backup on hand if your power simultaneously goes out as well.
Don’t let a sewer backup affect your home.
There are some simple ways to help prevent a backup in your sewer line, such as properly disposing of grease or paper products, but the main takeaway is to install a backwater prevention valve. A backwater prevention valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line (and sometimes into a drain line) in the basement of your home to prevent sewer backflows.*
Relocate or elevate your major appliances.
If your utilities and service equipment are below flood level, consider moving your HVAC systems to a higher level within your home. Other appliances such as washer and dryers, should always be above the ground floor and possibly even raising to help protect against water damage.
Even if you own a home far away from a major waterway, it still may be prudent to purchase a flood policy, as surface water events can happen to anyone and may not be covered by a homeowner’s policy. Help protect your family, your home, and your possessions as much as possible by talking to your local insurance agent about flood insurance options.