As weather patterns shift toward spring, homeowners must be wary of one of the greatest risks involved in the season: flooding from the thaw of winter snow and ice. Warmer temperatures combined with heavier rainfall and thawing snow will threaten basements in many parts of the nation throughout the next several months. Homeowners need to make preparations to avoid water damage.
FloodSmart.gov, a website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, notes that floods are the single-most-common and damaging natural disaster in the United States, and the National Flood Insurance Program paid over $839 million in claims in 2015. Basements tend to be the most at-risk area.
Let’s discuss some of the key items of interest involved in basement flooding.
Understand the causes
Realtor Magazine , the publication of the National Association of Realtors, offers helpful guidance related to avoiding basement flooding. In many instances, this is going to be a matter of recognizing when the flood risk is going up (such as when those first heavy rainstorms blow through) and taking measures before and during those events to keep the basement dry.
According to the magazine, monitoring the outside areas surrounding the home’s foundation is vital and homeowners need to watch out for any type of major water buildups in these areas. If you have gutters, downspouts, sewers or septic tanks in proximity to the basement, monitor these areas and keep them unclogged.
Realtor Magazine also suggests taking a close look at the foundation and structure throughout the basement to try to identify any broken or cracked pieces of concrete and wood. If you notice anything wrong, you will need to know how to address these issues quickly, as the source notes that it will take only one to two days for major damage to begin taking shape.
The Washington Post suggests taking the following steps to cleanup a basement flood should it occur in your house:
- Use a service provider to remove the water that has accumulated the basement. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, consider investing in a wet vacuum to ensure that you can get the water out as quickly as possible.
- Even once the floor is dry, you will need to also dehumidify the room to prevent mold buildup.
- Clean the floor and any areas of the basement thoroughly, as flood waters can carry harmful bacteria.
Once you have taken care of the immediate threat, The Washington Post article recommends finding out what led to the basement flooding and quickly repair the issue. Some homes will have structural problems (such as lawns or walkways that lean toward the foundation) and those will need to be taken care of before the full spring thaw arrives.
As always, make sure that you are covered by the right flood insurance policy.
Reprinted with permission by Selective Insurance Company