You can’t control the weather, but you can make wise decisions to protect your home from flooding.
To better understand your risk, start by looking at the FEMA Flood map, but don’t stop there. Floods occur in all 50 states, and not just in high-risk zones.
Talk to longstanding neighbors and ask them if they remember any flood events. If so, you’ll want to know how the flood affected your area and home. A C.L.U.E. ® Report through your insurer may include flood-related past claims against your property.
Hire a Property Inspector
A home inspection is a wise investment, if you choose a qualified inspector. Rhode Island passed a law requiring a license, but it isn’t enforced. Essentially, the state remains unregulated so it is very important to choose your home inspector wisely since qualifications, experience, and prices vary widely.
You have several excellent options. Certified Master Inspectors have over 1,000 fee-paid inspections under their belt and must take ongoing training to maintain their certification. InterNACHI also has strict training and experience requirements.
Your inspector will thoroughly check vulnerable areas like the roof, foundation, windows, and doors, but let them know you’re concerned about flooding too and ask for their suggestions.
Direct Rainwater Away From Your Home
Gutters and downspouts serve a vital purpose, and it is important that they’re clean and the downspouts carry water well away from your home.
Cleaning gutters regularly and protecting them from debris accumulation with leaf guards are good first steps. However, water spilling over the edges of your gutters in heavy rain is not a good sign. You need to re-examine the size, design, and installation of your system.
The gutters and downspouts on older homes are often much smaller than contemporary systems, and they may need an upgrade. However, new systems can have problems, too.
The gutters may not have sufficient pitch to drain water towards the downspouts or the contractor may have installed gutters too small for the amount of rain coming off your roof. Contractors may install fewer downspouts than necessary or let water spill out too close to the home to save money on materials.
Contact a few reputable gutter repair contractors and have them provide an estimate. A simple fix could save you thousands in a torrential rainstorm.
Build a Drainage Swale or French Drain
The grade on your property can change. If earth settles around your home, water pools near the foundation and leaches into your house. Heavy rainfall can cause flooding quickly since the ground around your home is probably already saturated.
Hiring a contractor to regrade your property is one option – but it is costly and destructive. However, drainage swales or a French drain are an option.
A swale is a basically a gently sloping trench you dig at least 10 feet away from your home. You can fill it with river rock, gravel, or attractive landscaping stones and make it part of the landscape.
A French drain also uses a trench, but fitted with perforated pipe which directs water away from your home. Cover the plastic pipe with about a foot of gravel, and protect it from debris with landscape fabric. Backfill the trench to the original grade and reseed if you wish. Do not direct downspout water in the French drain. It’s too much for one system.
Install a Backwater Valve
Installing a backwater valve on your property is very important if the lowest drain on your property is below the street storm drain level. This job normally requires a licensed plumber, but the valve closes if the storm sewers reach capacity. Otherwise, excess water can pour into your home.
Buy a Flood Alarm & Sump Pump
A good, inexpensive first line of defense against flooding is a flood alarm. An alarm can’t stop water from entering your home, but it can give you extra time to call for help and move items to higher ground. They’re relatively inexpensive and simple to install and many use smart technology too. These units send an alert to your smartphone so water does not go unnoticed.
Sump pumps are usually a job for professionals. They match the capabilities of the pump to the space for maximum efficiency, dig holes, and install pipes to divert the water into weeping tiles around the perimeter of your home. A ground-fault interrupter plug is also required and a backup battery system is also a good idea since, often times, heavy rains lead to power outages.
All of this may seem like too much bother and expense, but a sump pump can divert thousands of gallons of water away from your home and prevent tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Flood Insurance Provides Vital Protection
Homeowners in high-risk areas must have flood insurance, but floods can occur anywhere that it rains. Up to 25 percent of claims originate in low and medium risk areas, and global warming has led to increased storm intensity and duration.
What many homeowners don’t realize is their standard Rhode Island homeowners insurance policy does not cover flooding. Renters, condo, and homeowner’s policies often do not cover sewer backup either, unless you buy additional coverage.
The chances of flooding continue to rise, so don’t leave your home at risk. Give us a call and we’ll make sure that you’ve got the coverage you need.