How to Protect Your House from Flooding
Experts are predicting more widespread flooding this summer due to contributing factors, such as saturated soils from a record wet winter, streamflow, and precipitation.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) U.S. Spring Outlook, “nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states.”
While the greatest flood-prone areas are in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins, most of the East Coast is at risk for minor flooding.
Below is a NOAA map that shows the areas in the U.S. most at risk of major, moderate, or minor flooding.
With melting snow, saturated soils, and heavy rains on the horizon, a large portion of the U.S. is preparing for record flooding. While the upcoming hurricane season is hard to predict, it’s a good idea to take the spring and summer flood threat seriously.
To help communities prepare for the likely severe weather and flooding conditions in the coming months, we’re providing the information necessary to take action and get your home flood-ready. For updated weather information, visit the National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Mosaic.
How to Prepare Your Home for Flooding
What to Do Before a Flood
- Consider investing in a sump pump to clear out water before it can cause any significant damage. A sump pump is probably the most effective way to prevent your home from getting flooded.
- If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working properly by performing DIY sump pump maintenance every 3-4 months.
- Most homeowners insurance doesn’t include flooding, so call your insurance company to add flood insurance (if necessary). It normally takes at least 30 days for insurance policies to go into effect, so this should be done well in advance.
- Construct barriers such as levees, beams, and floodwalls to stop water from entering into your home.
- Avoid water seepage by using waterproofing materials to seal basement walls.
- Inspect your basement for anything that could get damaged as a result of the flooding. Move any electrical devices far away from moisture-prone areas.
- Make sure water is being properly diverted away from your home with downspout extenders and that water is running away from the foundation and not soaking into it.
- If you notice any gutter problems, such as clogged gutters, missing splash blocks, and loose gutters, get your gutter system repaired right away.
- Clean out your gutters of any leaves or other debris.
- If you receive a flood warning, pay close attention to the local news.
- Know the difference: A flood watch means there is a possibility of flooding. A flood warning means flooding is already in effect or will be in effect soon.
- Speak with a professional plumber about installing check-valves to keep floodwaters from backing up into the home.
- Clearly label all of your circuit breakers (or fuses) and keep a flashlight in a convenient place by the electrical panel.
- If instructed to do so, turn off power at the electrical panel and unplug electrical appliances and devices.
- NEVER touch any electrical equipment while wet or standing in water.
- Pack an emergency kit with important items in case you need to evacuate. The basics include food, water, medications, backup batteries, and personal sanitation items. Don’t wait until the last minute to start gathering supplies.
- Consider purchasing a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio.
- If you must evacuate and you have time, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to the higher floors.
Learn easy strategies to keep your basement from flooding.
What to Do During a Flood
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately and follow all evacuation orders. Disconnect power and appliances and lock your home before you leave.
- Stay informed by paying attention to weather updates on TV, radio, and social media.
- Avoid walking in floodwaters, but if you have to, walk where water is not moving.
- Do not drive in flooded areas. Follow the NOAA advice: “Turn Around Don’t Drown®.”
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or near standing water.
- If you notice a downed or dangling power line, stay far away and call 911 immediately to report it. If you’re inside a car, stay inside and call for help.
What to Do After a Flood
- Avoid driving in areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse.
- Stay tuned to local news stations for information on road conditions. Pay attention to cautionary signs and road closures!
- Service any damaged equipment as soon as possible. In fact, we recommend that you schedule a home safety inspection after any severe thunderstorms or flooding to ensure your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems haven’t been compromised.
- Standing water can contain chemicals, toxins, sharp objects, and other dangers. Don’t enter a flood-damaged building until authorities have given you the go-ahead.
- Contact your insurance company to discuss property damage.
- Let family and friends know you are safe. Register yourself with the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” list. You can also search for loved ones there.
Another great prevention measure for surviving storms and heavy rains is to invest in a standby home generator. The generator will automatically kick on if power shuts down. This will make sure your important appliances (refrigerators, HVAC systems, sump pumps, etc.) continue to work during severe weather.
Since we all depend on electricity for our food, internet, heating/cooling, medical equipment, security systems, and other needs, it is becoming more and more important for homeowners to have a backup power system.
NEVER use a portable generator inside of the home or garage. Fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, generators, etc.) emit carbon monoxide as part of the combustion process. Brush up on generator safety.
Backup Sump Pumps
You don’t need a generator to make sure your sump pump is able to work during power outages. Sump pumps often come with alarm systems or an emergency battery backup that turns on in the case of a power outage.
If your power gets knocked out during a storm, the sump pump will be inoperable unless you have a battery backup. An alarm system will simply alert you to the fact that your sump pump isn’t receiving any power. We highly recommend adding a battery backup system to ensure the sump pump works during power outages.
For more information, download the Homeowner’s Guide to Sump Pumps.
Contact Sobieski Services for help protecting your Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or New Jersey home from flooding. Our HVAC and plumbing specialists are always available to answer any questions you may have.