Are you covered for Flood in your Insurance policy?
Each year, homeowners and business owners across the nation sustain significant weather-related property damage due to floods. These can include losses caused by the overflow of a body of water from ponds rivers and creeks, or the rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water, and mudslide. In nearly all cases, these flood losses cannot be prevented or even anticipated. In many instances, the losses are devastating.
Thankfully, there are ways to help minimize the risk of flood damage to your home, if you act early enough. Here are some tips:
1. Inspect your Drainage System
Flooding can cause both exterior and interior damage to your home, and faulty water drainage is often the culprit. To rectify, begin regularly clearing your gutters of debris. Check the gutter system for any gaps or leaks that may be directing water toward the foundation of your home, rather than away from it.
Downspout extensions should divert water at least four feet away from the foundation, and the soil within 3 feet of the home should slope away from it. If you discover a slope problem, a contractor can regrade your yard to ensure water flows in the right direction.
2. Check Your Foundation and Windows
Water can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation, so inspect it and fill any cracks with the right preventive materials. Also, consider sealing the outside of the foundation. Repairing large foundation cracks may require the help of a structural engineer or basement specialist.
Basement and low-level window wells are also areas that may allow water to seep into the home. Buy a window well cover that fastens securely to help prevent water from spilling into the well.
3. Prevent Sewer Backups
Sewer line backups can cause costly—and gross—flooding in homes. And whether your insurance covers it or you have to bear the brunt of the cost on your own will depend on the source of the water.
A professional sewer line inspection and cleaning, which usually costs less than $150, can unclog your sewer line and identify any blockages. Mature tree roots, for example, can penetrate or crush a home’s sewer line and cause a major back up into your home’s basement, so it’s important to identify such issues before they become huge problems.
Also be sure to avoid putting things down your home’s pipes that could lead to a clog or backup, such as cooking grease or large food scraps.
4. Have a Sump Pump—and Test It Regularly
A sump pump removes water that has been collected in a basin on a below-ground-level area of the home, such as a basement or crawlspace. It can help prevent mold and mildew from growing, which can be an expensive consequence of water and flood damage.
Though not always an inexpensive installation, a sump pump can prevent thousands of dollars of flood damage—so it can be worth it in homes prone to flooding. Keep in mind that you may need two or three sump pumps depending on your flooding risks.
If you have a sump pump, be sure to inspect and test it regularly to ensure that it’s working properly. A common way to test it is to pour a small bucket of water into the basin to see whether your sump pump automatically kicks on to remove the water.
Remember that a sump pump only works if your home has power. So you will need a backup power source, such as a sump-pump battery or a home generator, to help ensure that water will still be pumped out of your home even if a storm or flood cuts off power to your area.
5. Move Valuables and Appliances to High Ground
The elevation is your best defense against flooding. Keep any treasured or high-value possessions above ground, such as on the upper level of your home or on the top shelves of closets and cupboards. Avoid storing objects on the floor, especially in basements or other ground-level areas.
Put any appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, on wood or cement blocks so they sit at least a foot off the ground. And be sure to make copies of all of your important documents, which you secure in a fire-safe, waterproof box kept in a high-level location. It helps to know how high floodwaters can rise in your area.