If you’re like most people, when you think about flooding and home flood prevention you think about things like torrential rains, rivers overflowing their banks and people racing to set up sandbag barriers in an attempt to minimize damage before things get too far out of control. You probably don’t, however, think about things like your washing machine, your water heater, or sewer connections backing up.
The majority of people completely underestimate the potential for flood damage to come from within their own homes. Hidden behind the walls of every home is a large network of pipes, connectors, fixtures, tubes, drains and more. Depending on the size of the home, there could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of connections, all susceptible to failure from things like manufacturing problems, human error, and the simple passage of time.
If a failure does occur in a pipe, a drain, or an appliance, it’s fairly obvious that any leaking water has nowhere else to go but throughout your home. Even a small leak has the potential to damage walls, floors, furniture and more before you realize what’s happening. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that something will fail eventually and impossible to know where it will happen.
By being proactive, though, and following good home flood prevention practices, one can significantly reduce or even eliminate damage caused by both natural floods and floods caused by internal plumbing or appliance failures.
Naturally Occurring Home Flood Protection
If you live in an area where natural floods are a regular occurrence, preventative maintenance throughout your home and property is essential for keeping any damage to an absolute minimum. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for water to get out of your home, and as difficult as possible for it to get in. It’s also a good idea to keep appliances such as washers and water heaters in areas that are above normal floodlines.
Insufficient or clogged municipal sewer lines are a common problem in flood-prone areas. Sometimes just a heavy rain can be enough to cause these overworked lines to backup and send sewage flowing back into your home. Having backwater valves installed on your main drainage pipes can eliminate this risk. With a backwater valve installed, when the flow reverses the valve will automatically close, preventing wastewater and/or sewage from entering your home.
If your main flooding concern is water coming in from above, rather than below, and you only experience mild flooding from time to time, installing floor drains in basements or other low-lying areas of the home can help. Strategically placed floor drains will let any invading water out before it has the chance to build up and cause significant damage to your home or your belongings.
Sump pumps are designed to be installed in the basement of your home and begin pumping when a certain level of water is detected. They are very commonly installed in homes in areas where at least some flooding is a regular an occurrence. The pump is placed in a small pit which should be located in the lowest part of your home. A float switch is used to trigger the pump when water reaches a certain level, hopefully mitigating any further damage that could be caused by water gathering in the basement.
If you have a sump pump installed in your home, most experts also recommend having a backup system, too. The main pump is usually powered by electricity, which, of course, can cut out during intense storms — right when you need your sump pump working the most. There are (usually lower capacity) sump pumps that function from battery power or even powered by the water pressure in your house. These can be a real lifesaver if you’ve got water coming into your basement and the power goes out.
Land Grading Or Slope
An important part of keeping outside water outside is simply making sure that water naturally flows away from your house. You can easily see where the water goes by watching what happens during a normal rain.
The angle of the land around your home is called the grading, or the slope. Ideally, your home should be sitting on the highest point of your property with the grade going down from there. This naturally directs the flow of any water away from your home. If you notice puddles forming around your property when it rains — especially if they are close to your house — you should look into how you might be able to improve the grade to divert water more efficiently. If outside water regularly gathers around your home, it could cause damage to the structure’s foundation — especially in areas where it gets cold enough for the ground to freeze.
Internal Home Flood Protection
People who don’t live in flood-prone areas tend to think they don’t have anything to worry about as far as water damage in their homes goes. The truth is, though, that water damage caused by things like ruptured pipes, broken washing machines, and leaking water heaters is more common than most people think and it can cause thousands of dollars in damage to both your home’s structure and your belongings. More than 2,500,000 homeowners incur damage from internal flooding every year.
An internal leak in your home can cause damage to floors, carpets, walls, insulation, and even the home’s electrical system. Recovering from a leak goes far beyond just removing the water. It could mean replacing carpets, dealing with dangerous mold, fixing damaged sheetrock, or replacing soaked insulation. There could also be damage to belongings with great monetary or sentimental value. Then, of course, if water and electricity cross in the wrong place there could even be catastrophic consequences like a fire.
The worst part of dealing with internal flooding problems is that, unlike natural floods, internal problems often go undetected for at least some period of time because they happen where we don’t see them or when nobody is home. In fact, with so many people out of the house for eight to ten hours per day, the laws of probability say that this kind of problem will most likely occur either when you’re sleeping or not at home. What would have been a small problem, or no problem at all, if it was detected right away becomes something much bigger.
WaterCop Is Effective Internal Home Flood Protection
The only way to stop broken pipes or leaking appliances from flooding your home and causing damage is to shut off the water supply as soon as possible. It’s that simple. The longer the water is allowed to run, the more potential for damage there is.
WaterCop is a complete system that can monitor different areas of your home for water leaks and automatically turn off the water supply when a problem is detected. It also gives you the ability to easily turn the water off and on manually whenever you like, such as when you leave for work or go off on vacation for example. You’ll always have the peace of mind of knowing that your home is safe from internal flooding and water damage whether you’re there or not.
The basic WaterCop system works by installing an automatic shutoff valve on your home’s main water line near your existing manual shutoff valve. Wireless sensors are then placed in desired areas of the home wherever there is running water or appliances that use water, such as washers, refrigerators, and water heaters. When any of the sensors come in contact with water, a signal is sent to the automatic valve, closing it and preventing any flooding from happening before it can even start.
Taking protection to a higher level, there are also more options available to increase the functionality of WaterCop. The system can be equipped with freeze detection to help stop problems caused by frozen pipes. It integrates easily with home security/monitoring systems, and it can even be set up to call you and deliver a recorded message when the system has detected a problem and taken action.
After A Flood Is Too Late
The bottom line is that protecting your home from flood damage is your responsibility, and the best way to protect yourself is to be proactive and ready before something goes wrong. Even the best flood insurance isn’t going to do anything for you until after you’ve suffered damage.
If you want to keep your home, your family, and your belongings safe from water and flood damage, you need to have protection measures in place. Your insurance policy might help with the money for things like repairing property or replacing furniture, but it won’t give you back precious items you might lose or time that could have been spent on happier matters. If you wait until after a flood occurs to think about these things, it’s already too late.
Remember, too, that maintenance is an important part of any home flood protection plan. Once you make the decision to put any of these measures in place, you should make it a habit to check regularly and verify that everything is working the way it should be.