Too much rain? What to do if you live in a flood prone area.
Flooding is not limited to just homes and businesses in low-lying areas next to rivers and streams. You can live high on a hill and experience flooding due to heavy rains.
Runoff from hillsides, ground saturation and hydrostatic pressure on foundations due to heavy rains can lead to flooded basements.
Here are four things to do if you live in a flood prone area, before the rainy season starts again.
Buy flood insurance.
Your regular homeowners policy does not cover flooding from any source, including broken pipes, rain runoff, leaky foundations and more.
Flood insurance is sold by local insurance agents, but in the US (and in some other places) it is a separate government insurance plan offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Rates are partly determined by your location. If you live in a flood zone, you will pay more. How high your home sits above the 100 year floodplain is a predictor of how high the water is likely to go in that once-in-a-lifetime flood.
Check your property grade, gutters and downspouts.
The dirt that backfills against your home or business as well as areas with pavement or concrete need to slope away from the building to carry rainwater away from the foundation.
Annual frost heaves, subsidence and natural settling can cause the grade of the ground around the structure to direct water back toward the foundation or be too level to effectively create runoff in a direction away from the structure.
Clogged gutters or down spouts that do not direct water far enough away from the structure can also lead to flooding.
Most flooding caused by poor grading and problems with the gutter system are due to ground saturation from heavy rains exerting many tons of hydrostatic pressure against porous foundation walls.
The goal is to have rainwater drain quickly away from the structure.
Install passive and active drain systems.
An example of a passive drainage system would be a collection basin and drain pipe located in a low spot in your yard. Water runs through a storm grate into a basin, which then carries the water by gravity through a drain pipe away from the area or into the sewer system. You often see them just outside of garage doors.
A French drain is also a passive drainage system in that no pumps are needed to move the water away.
An active drainage system would be a sump pump in the basement to pump water from a low point along the foundation wall in the basement into the sewer system.
Sump pumps are placed by waterproofing professionals in catch basins below the lowest level of foundation wall of the basement. A channel system usually is installed to direct water along the base of the wall to the sump. When the sump fills, a pump turns on to pump out the water before it overflows.
Flood insurance covers basement contents of items that are considered the “home’s foundation elements and equipment that’s necessary to support the structure.” This would include things such as your furnace, hot water heater and the breaker box.
However, those things are also covered under your homeowners policy for the building part of the coverage.
Your washer, dryer, freezer and food in the freezer would be covered under the contents part of a homeowners policy, but your homeowners policy is not likely to cover any flood damage whatsoever.
After reading all the fine print, you may find it beneficial to not have anything in the basement that cannot easily be replaced as no personal belongings destroyed in a flood are covered either.
Relocating appliances and valuables to the main living floor or higher may prevent unrecoverable losses in the event of a basement flood.
Many people live in flood-prone areas.
These may include a waterfront home next to the ocean or bay, or it may be a meandering stream that flows at the end of the back yard.
Recent years have been some of the worst for flooding on record. Many believe that it will get worse as time goes on.
That does not mean you need to move to higher ground, but you should take steps to be prepared in case a flood comes.