What Can I Do to Stop My Home Flooding?
The impact of flooding is both emotional and practical. On a practical level the impact can be devastating with extensive damage to buildings and contents. However, the emotional impact can be even more profound with the loss of irreplaceable photographs or possessions and the insecurity of not being able to return home for a considerable time.
Our climate is changing and sadly flood events are becoming more common. While insurance can cater for the financial cost, the emotional impact is more difficult. However, by installing protective measures, you can give yourself some control over the risk of flood and minimise the impact should it recur.
Flood protection measure can be installed in a property at any time, however, from a practical viewpoint, it makes sense to do this while work is being done and therefore, the most likely time to be considering protective measures is following a flood when the property is being repaired.
For this reason you need to liase with your insurer before repairs are underway. Insurance policies generally cover putting your house back in the same condition it was before the lo
ss occurred. Therefore, if incorporating protective measures costs more, you would need to fund this yourself. However, this is money well spent when you consider the upheaval that a flood causes.
Forms of protection
There are two forms of protection – flood resistance and flood resilience. Ideally buildings should be fitted with both.
- Resistance – helps prevent water getting into buildings
- Resilience – ensures minimal damage if water does get in
Examples of flood resistance measures include:
- removable barriers for doors and windows
- temporary seals for doors and air bricks
- one-way valves on drainage pipes to decrease the risk of sewage backing up into a building during a floor
- pump and sump systems which drain water from below floor level faster than it rises
It is also possible to buy special waterproof bags that can be used to protect possessions should water gain entry. These can be large enough to take furniture or even your car! So if your car can’t be moved out of reach of flood, it can still be protected.
These measures invariably rely on you being there at the time of the flood to take action, although it is also possible to get water sensors which detect rising water and would allow an early warning for you to get home and deploy your defenses.
What if the flood is deeper than 1m?
If the flood is deeper than 1m, it is actually necessary to allow the water into your home, as this depth of water can create sufficient pressure to cause the walls to collapse, resulting in serious structural damage. Therefore resilient measures will come into effect, which include:
- replacing timber floors with concrete, and carpet with tiles – this could be done if a room was re-decorated and lay tiles rather than carpet or laminate flooring
- MDF or chipboard kitchen or bathroom units can be replaced with plastic or steel alternatives – again this could be done if these rooms were being redecorated at any time
- Gypsum plaster is susceptible to water damage and can be replaced with more water resistant materials such as lime plaster or cement render
- Have plastic skirting board, doors and door surrounds or alternatively varnish these thoroughly to limit water damage
- Raise items such as boilers, wall sockets and meters above the flood level
It is probably a good idea to discuss your circumstances with a surveyor to decide on the best measures for you and then liase with your insurers to see which changes can be incorporated and whether there is any additional cost.
You may worry that incorporating resilience in your home will look ugly and damage the aesthetic appeal or even the market value. However,
many of the changes are hidden – such as under floor pump and sump system and one way toilet valves. Some are temporary which only need to be erected when a flood warning is issued and take just minutes such as using door guards, or air brick covers. Some changes are visible – for example placing sockets half way up a wall – but can be disguised.