Can You Fight Flooding?

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy of wikimedia
As I sit here writing this blog, it’s raining cats and dogs outside.  When summer rolls around it seems to me that the Sunshine State suddenly becomes the Sun Shower State.  With rain squalls being a nearly daily occurrence for the next month or so, I thought it was high time that I address the problem of flooding.  Most Floridians associate flooding with hurricanes.  While more homes flood during named storms than at any other time of the year, that doesn’t mean that it takes a hurricane to flood your home.  Far from it.  Any sustained rain shower can cause conditions favorable to flooding.  So too can conditions in and around your home.  Before you come home to find your abode ankle deep in water, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

      1.      How low can you go? – The lower above sea level your home is located, the higher the probability that it can wind up flooded.  However, even if your home is located on a hill, don’t think you’re invulnerable from water intrusion.  Water molecules are some of the tiniest around.  This means they can easily find their way into cracks and crevices to enter your home.  If the weather-stripping at the bottom of your doors is warn out, look out during the next summer squall.  The same goes for garage doors and patio doors.  If you see cracks in your foundation, better break out the caulking gun unless you want an indoor swimming pool in your living room.

Image courtesy wikimedia
Got Gutters? – Another supporting cast member to the Flood Follies are blocked gutters.  The sad fact is many gutters can’t adequately handle the sheer volume of water that a summer squall can drop.  Should water begin to back up, this can cause flooding from the top down as the moisture finds its way under tiles and around soffits into your walls.  What’s even worse is when gutters get clogged with leaves.  One of the fastest ways to create a flood in your home is to have your home’s gutters misdirect water due to a debris dam that gets created when the base of the gutter can no longer channel the water cascading from your roof away from your home.  If you haven’t inspected your gutters in months, the time to do so is now as opposed to later.

3.      Get your utilities and appliances out of the flood zone. – If your furnace and water heater are kept in the garage, make sure they’re raised up off the floor.  This will give them a better chance of surviving a flood.  The same goes for electrical wires and propane tanks.  Leaving electrical components of any kind on the ground is asking for trouble down the road. 

      4.      Seen your sewers lately? – One of the biggest causes of water damage is when a sewer or toilet backs up during a flood.  As bad as water damage can be to your home and furnishings, should raw sewage find its way into your abode, the amount of damage this can cause is much, much worse.  What’s even worse is the inconvenience afterward, since you and your family will be forced to evacuate your home in the aftermath of a sewage backup.  Before you wind up having to deal with a smelly disaster, have your sewer lines inspected.  Everything from debris to roots can clog sewer lines only to render them all but useless when a major storm occurs.  Also make sure sewer drains aren’t clogged with leaves and debris.  This can compromise their ability to clear water away from your property.

      5.      Do your plants help or hinder drainage? – Another thing you should check is your home’s landscaping to see if hedges and exposed roots dam the water during a heavy downpour.  If your yard looks like a pond after every rainstorm, it’s time to consider adjusting the landscaping or adding a swale to improve drainage.  If your neighbors yard tends to channel the rainwater toward your property, the solution could be to plant hedges between your property and theirs, or to erect a fence to redirect the flood toward the street and away from your home.

Image courtesy wikimedia
      6.      Wet flood-proofing your property. – If your patio tends to pond during a squall, maybe it’s time to add openings or drains to give the water a way to escape.  Simply cutting a notch or two in the concrete along the edge of the patio could be all it takes to give the water a way out that will keep it from backing up to creep under your sliding door.   

      7.      Dry flood-proof your home.Another way to weatherproof your home is to add a weatherproof coating to exterior walls to serve as a water barrier.  You could also consider buying waterproof shields that are designed to cover openings where water can find its way inside.  There are even temporary barriers that you can buy that will shield your doors and garage from floodwaters, as well as plastic enclosures designed to keep your car from flooding by sealing it in a waterproof bag.

      8.      What to do with windows.I think the reason they call them windows is because when the wind begins to howl, homeowners start to shout, “Oh No!”    If you want to keep your windows from being blown in or broken when a squall or named storm passes through town, you need to find a practical way to defend all those fragile panes of glass that surround your home.  Whether you invest in shatter-resistant panes that have a piece of plexiglass sandwiched between the glass, or you install storm shutters or use some other form of defense when named storms head your way, the last thing you want to do is have a piece of debris take out one or more of your windows.

      9.      The proof is in the roof. – Last but not least, you should take a good hard look at your roof to see if it’s up to the task of handling the worst that Mother Nature can throw at it.  If your shingles haven’t been replaced in twenty years or more, chances are that they’re well past their prime.  While nobody likes to spend thousands of dollars to have a roof replaced, sometimes the alternative is to wind up with tens of thousands of dollars in damage when a roof fails to stop the rain.

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on home owner’s insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. You don't have to start buildig an ark to prepare your home for summer floods.

  2. This is great information. I will implement several of these ideas right away.


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