Floods occur in many forms and in some ways are considered one of the worst natural disasters. Floods may happen in areas near a river or body of water, after a major rainfall that causes the water table to rise, and in your home if a pipe bursts.
Whatever the cause, floods cause more than $40 billion in damages each year. They are one of the leading causes of fatalities from natural disasters, killing as many as 30 people a year inside their homes.
While some floods cannot be prevented, you can take steps to keep water out and your house safe. Depending on your home’s location and what your risks are, you have numerous options. The five projects below are listed from least to most expensive so that you can better determine which is best for your situation.
Floods do not always start outside of your house. Sometimes, they occur from within. There are many causes of an indoor flood, ranging from a malfunctioning washing machine to an overflowing tub. However, the most common and dramatic in-home flooding comes from burst pipes.
Pipes burst when the temperature in the house drops low enough for the water in the pipes to freeze. As the water freezes, it expands. If the temperature drops quickly and the water freezes fast enough, it can expand so rapidly that it causes the metal or plastic pipe to split. When the ice thaws, the water then pours out of the holes or cracks.
One way to prevent this is to insulate your pipes. Pipe insulation helps keep them at a more even temperature so that they do not freeze.
Project Cost: $100 – $1,000, depending on how many pipes are at risk.
Installation Difficulty: Simple, precut pipe insulation slips right over the pipes.
French drains are considered a passive method of directing water away from your home. If you want an active approach, use a sump pump. Sump pumps also use a trench, but rather than funneling the water away passively, they collect the water in a pit, then use a pump to force it out. They are more effective when paired with French drains, particularly in areas of very heavy rainfall or in homes that have experienced flooding before. If you have a large property, you may need to install more than one.
Project Cost: $550 – $1,100
Installation Difficulty: Installation can be simple if a pit is already there or difficult if a pit and trench must be dug.
If you live in an area where home flooding occurs because of heavy rainfall or high water tables, a French drain could help. A French drain directs water away from your house. It can be installed inside or outside the home and can help prevent flooding from groundwater.
It is installed via a trench that collects the water and moves it away from your property. Interior drains are more expensive, but they may be more effective, removing water from the most crucial areas. In either case, they can be installed in new construction or an existing home and can be paired with other systems, such as sump pumps, to lower your flood risk even more.
Project Cost: $5,000
Installation Difficulty: This can take several hours to days, cutting into either the ground or the concrete in your basement to install.
Foundation Sealing and Waterproofing
Floods are not always a sudden occurrence. Sometimes they involve the slow and steady accumulation of water through a crack in your foundation. Over time, this crack can grow and allow more water into your home until you have a flood. Waterproofing and sealing your foundation can prevent this from happening.
Waterproofing helps repair any small cracks and stop water from getting into your foundation. It is frequently paired with both sump pumps and French drains, particularly if you live in an area that allows moisture to slope down to your foundation. If your home is on top of a hill or the ground slopes away from the foundation, then waterproofing by itself may be a good answer.
Project Cost: $5,000
Installation Difficulty: Sealing and waterproofing can take several hours to complete or may take days, depending on the condition of the foundation.
House raising is not the answer for every property. But if you live in a flood zone, meaning near a body of water that has flooded in the past, it may be your best answer. House raising is a major project that involves taking your current home and lifting it several feet before building a new foundation or crawl space below it. The amount that you need to raise your house is calculated by the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). This number takes into account the ground elevation, the flood zone, and how far your home already sits above it. If your BFE is 10 feet and your house is 5 feet above the zone with a crawl space below it, it will need to be raised 5 more feet to get it out of the flood zone.
House raising can be expensive but can save thousands of dollars in potential flood damage. It will also keep your home safe for years of possible flooding.
Project Cost: $35,500
Installation Difficulty: This is a very invasive and difficult procedure that must be done carefully to avoid disrupting the integrity of the house’s structure.
Protect Your Home from Floods
Floods are dangerous and expensive. They cause a lot of damage in a very short time, and they do not discriminate about which houses they impact. Protect your home from flood damage with these five techniques and stay dry regardless of what is going on outside.