How to Protect Your Home From Flood Damage

Home Ownership

How to Protect Your Home From Flood Damage

protect your home from a floodMany people think a homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for flood damage, but it doesn’t. Flood damage is only covered by flood insurance, which is a separate policy. Unfortunately, even though the average flood policy costs just $600 a year, only 13 percent of U.S. homes are protected by flood insurance.

Even if you don’t live near water, it’s important to consider buying flood insurance. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, almost 20 percent of all flood claims come from areas considered to be at a low to moderate risk for flooding. To give you a good idea of the damage that can occur, compiled data in this infographic on the total damage caused by Hurricane Sandy along with preventative and reactive measures that were enacted after Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.

From melting snow to excessive rain brought on by a hurricane, a variety of flood damage can happen to your home. Here are eight steps you can take to start protecting your home today.

Step 1: Get Flood Insurance

Even if your home is not in a flood zone, you should consider getting flood insurance. You can purchase flood insurance at any time, but it won’t take effect until 30 days after you’ve paid your premium.

To see what the risk of flood is in your area, visit the free Map Service Center on the FEMA website. The map can help you determine if your home, or one you’re considering purchasing, is in a flood zone. Knowing this can help you choose adequate flood insurance coverage.

Step 2: Install a Sump Pump

The average cost of installing a sump pump is about $1,000, but it’s a solid investment into protecting your home from a flood, or at least minimizing flood damage. A sump pump will remove excess water from your basement and relocate it to a dry well or storm drain. A sump pump requires electricity to operate, so it’s a good idea to install a battery-operated backup so the pump will continue to work even if the power goes out.

Step 3: Invest in Flood Sensors

Flood sensors are a proactive approach to limiting flood damage. They are placed in various locations throughout your home and will alert you the moment water is detected in a location that should be dry, such as the basement. A flood sensor will help you quickly respond to a flood, as well as notify you of other events that can cause serious water damage, such as a broken pipe or overflowing sink.

We recommend integrating flood sensors into your home security or home automation system. Several national home security companies offer flood prevention solutions.

Step 4: Elevate the Water Heater and Major Appliances

Be sure your water heater, furnace and major appliances, such as the washer and dryer, are at least one foot off the ground. You can choose a temporarily solution, such as placing them on cement blocks, or opt for a more permanent solution, like using a cement pedestal. To help prevent water damage, your outdoor HVAC unit should also be elevated at least 12 inches.

Step 5: Safeguard Important Paperwork

knowyourstuffGather information you might need during and after a flood and place it in a waterproof document container. Be sure you include a copy of your flood insurance policy and your insurance provider’s contact information. Also include copies of other important paperwork, such as the deed to your house, birth certificates and health insurance cards.

If you don’t already have a home inventory, now is the time to create one. This can make the process of filing a flood insurance claim much easier. The free KnowYourStuff app is a good tool for creating a home inventory.

Step 6: Create an Emergency Flood Plan

Sometimes a flood happens quickly, leaving homeowners with little time to plan an escape. It’s important that you plan and practice a flood escape plan with your family on a semi-yearly basis. Children should be aware of safe places they can go if they can’t get home due to flooded streets. They should also be warned of the dangers of a flood, including that fast-moving water that can appear safe, but can easily sweep them off their feet. You might find it helpful to share tips from this flood safety infographic with your family.

Step 7: Put Together an Emergency Kit

From a long-term power outage to a natural disaster, like a flood, a well-stocked emergency kit can help your family navigate unexpected circumstances. In addition to first-aid supplies, your family emergency kit should contain canned food, bottled water, blankets, at least one flashlight, a change of clothes for each family member and any essential prescription medications. Store the kit in a location that every family member can reach, and have them practice retrieving it.

Step 8: Install an Automated Shutoff Valve

When installed in a strategic location, an automated shutoff valve can help prevent major flood damage to your home. An automated shutoff valve is located near the primary water inlet in your house and shuts off the main water supply when a flood sensor is activated. They are battery powered, and thanks to wireless technology, there are no wires running from the flood sensors to the automated shutoff valve. Just like flood sensors, an automated shutoff valve can be integrated into many monitored home security systems and home automation systems.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States; take action now to protect your home.

About Elli Bishop and SafeWise

Elli is the head of outreach at SafeWise. SafeWise is a community-focused safety organization committed to increasing home and community safety through education, awareness, and preparedness. Interested in finding a security provider that offers flood prevention solutions? Try the system finder at!

Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.

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