How to protect your home against floods

If you are making a plan to protect your home against floods, first you have to evaluate how much risk is there for your region and your house specifically. Moving to Hawaii will require you to assess which flood zone you’re in if you even are in one. Then you will have to make some accommodations and renovations to your house. Some of those will mean you’ll be installing a flood control system and checking for any cracks in your home’s foundation. You will have to close those up with sealants. Then you’ll consult your flood insurance agent to check if you need to perform any additional emergency management they recommend.

Flooding is the most common weather disaster in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is also the costliest one. Ever since 1980, to this fay, flooding has racked up more than $300 billion in damage for Americans.

What steps should you take in order to protect your home against floods?

  1. Evaluate Your Risk
  2. Protect Your Home Against Floods
  3. Steps Towards Damage Control After Flooding Has Begun
  4. Evaluate the Risk of High Water in Your Home

Like we said, the very first step you should cross off your to-do list is to check how likely you are to suffer a flood in your area. That is most important because it will help you examine the home where your Hawaii movers will be relocating you to. You need to know exactly how well it is built. Will it withstand a large amount of water? The FEMA Flood Map Service will show you which flood risk zone you are in. The flood maps have different zone markings for different levels of flood risk according to the region. All relevant structures are marked as well, such as bridges, dams, and levees. Be sure to check the year in which the map was made because maps can be extremely outdated. Since then the actual flood risks in your area might have changed significantly.

Protect your home against floods so that this flooded living room from the picture does not happen in your home
In addition to the foundation and electrical renovations, you should also lift your appliances above the flood level. Normally, the cheapest and quickest solution for this step is to place them on top of concrete blocks.

Contact a flood insurance agent

Contact your flood insurance agent who will evaluate the specific flood level of your house. The flood level is the height at which flood waters could affect your house in case of a disaster. Ideally, your home should be situated above this level in order to be safe in case of major floods. Learn all the pros and cons of buying property in Hawaii before making a decision. Know how your house could suffer from flood waters by determining where the water runoff is around your home. Next time you experience big rainfall, note whether the water flows toward or away from your home. Also, make a not of places where it creates little pools. This will help you protect your home against floods if you identify the specific areas that require some dry-proofing techniques.

Purchase some insurance just to be sure

Remember that your standard homeowner’s insurance policy will not reimburse you for any flooding damage. You’ll need to get an additional policy for flood insurance especially if you are buying an oceanfront home. You can get it through your homeowner’s insurance company or you can go through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Disaster-proofing renovations to protect your home against floods

Once you’ve determined the risk of your house suffering a flood, you’ll have to take the appropriate steps to protect your home against floods. We will provide you with some recommendations. Adapting your house in order for it to withstand flooding can range from expensive home remodeling to basic maintenance which is free. If you’re planning to build a new home in a flood-prone region, or if your home is unable to withstand rising water, some major remodeling may be required in order to minimize the potential damage. Here are some things you can do to protect your home from rising water.

Contractor standing in front of a house under construction
Be sure to hire licensed contractors to conduct any renovations. Check with your local Hawaii building department for permit and insurance requirements.

1. Raise your home on stilts or piers

This is extremely expensive to conduct retroactively. But when building a new home, raising it on stilts could potentially save it from total ruin. Stilts raise your home’s flood level. And since even an inch of flood water can cause major damage and costs a fortune in repairs and new furniture, raising your home above the flood level will completely protect your home. And your budget.

2. Install foundation vents or a sump pump

This method is a form of “wet flood-proofing”. It is great because it can be installed retroactively. The vents allow flood water to flow through your home and subside without pooling around it. Vents will act as outlets for flood water and relieve the huge pressure water puts on walls and basement windows. In addition to foundation vents, people often use sump pumps to pump water out of basements. We recommend the sump pump with a battery backup, that you can use in case the power goes out.

3. Apply coatings and sealants to protect your home against floods

This method of “dry flood-proofing” means you protect your home against floods by applying coatings and sealants to your foundation, walls, windows, and doorways. The sealants prevent flood water from leaking into your house through any cracks you might have in the foundation.

4. Raise your electrical outlets

All electrical outlets, switches, and sockets should be at least one foot above flood level. Otherwise, you are risking significant electrical damage, not to mention severe burns and other injuries. Stay safe and invest in this method of flood-proofing your home.

5. Install check valves on your pipes

All pipes that connect to your house have to have valves. They prevent a flooded sewage system from filling your home up with flood water. Note that gate valves work better than flap valves because they provide a better seal against water pressure.

A traffic sign half way in the water because of a flood
Modify your furnace, water heater and any other indoor equipment or appliances so that they are positioned above your home’s flood level.

Steps to limit damage after flooding has begun

If a storm is imminent, or if flooding has already started, follow these steps to minimize flooding and water damage to your personal property:

  1. Turn off the water line
  2. Clean your gutters and drains so that water can drain from your house without obstacles
  3. Use sandbags to block gaps, they will successfully stop water
  4. Move electronics first, then your furniture and eventually move your rugs to a higher floor or the attic. If you don’t have those, at least rise them above water level.
  5. Shut off the electricity at the breaker panel, to stop floodwater from causing your electrical system to short circuit and hurt people in the house
  6. Turn on your sump pump to get rid of the water as soon as possible.
  7. Photograph or videotape the flooding and the damage it’s caused so that you can defend your claim with your flood insurance provider.