how to flood-proof your house

If it can rain in your neighborhood, it can also flood. Many conditions can contribute to the possibility of a flood in your area, but one thing's for sure: it's important to defend your home and stuff against flood damage.

Floods can happen anywhere, anytime. But before you go plastic-wrapping your whole house or buying a canoe, you can easily protect yourself (and your place) from some of the potential damages from flooding with these hands-on tips for flood-proofing your home.

elevate, elevate, elevate

It'll save you a lot of backbreaking work later if you move large appliances, heavy furniture, and valuable electronics, power tools, jewelry, and important family documents to your second floor, attic, even your roof (if all else fails). It's always good to get to higher ground.

If that's not possible (even in the event of an advance flood warning), consider permanently fixing audio-visual equipment (like a TV) to the wall of your entertainment room on the first floor, roughly 5 feet above floor level.

construct a dam of sandbags

Sandbags can be used in front of doorways and brickwork vents, and over drains to prevent excess water from entering your home. Home improvement stores have an abundance of reasonably-priced bags, but you'll likely have to fill them with sand yourself. You only need to fill bags about 70 percent of the way full with sand. This way, it's easier to overlap bags, which allows them to hold together more easily. Most standard homes can be protected with less than 25 sandbags.

protect unmovable items

For cumbersome appliances you can't move to higher ground, you can take still take measures to preserve them. Items like water heaters, furnaces, and washers and dryers that are too bulky to move can often be raised on blocks, a platform, or even pressure-treated lumber. Because these heavy-duty appliances are susceptible to water damage, the idea is to keep them above potential flood waters.

If you have advance warning of a flood in your area, it's important that you unplug all electronics, even the high-up equipment. And during a flood, never unplug any electrical item that requires you to stand in or near water.

varnish wooden doors and floors

Wooden doors are typical in most houses, so a simple way to reduce water damage from flooding to an important part of every room is to varnish your doors. Stains and varnishes can be purchased at any home improvement store, and staff there should be able to teach you how best to apply it in your home. It's a simple, inexpensive way to keep damages at a minimum after a flood. If done correctly, varnishing wooden doors can prevent mold and other bacteria from forming post-flood.

The results are similar with wood flooring, but since water will obviously be more concentrated on the ground, varnishing has less effect. That's why it's important to let wooden floors dry after a flood, in case they've buckled or have accumulated mildew. Varnish can be reapplied once floors have been dried and cleaned thoroughly.

get flood insurance coverage

All 50 states have and can experience floods or flash floods. That's why it's wise to get flood insurance for your home, even if you live in a moderate- or low-risk area. A mere 6-inch flood in a 2,000 square foot home can cost over $39,000 in damages, according to FEMA's Floodsmart.gov.

Though flood-proofing your home can save a lot of money and heartbreak (knowing your beloved flat screen can survive a flood — worth all that effort, right?), it's good to have great security. Get a quote and see how flood insurance can protect your pad.

Do you live in a natural disaster zone?
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Learn to spot flood damages and avoid driving in a flood.

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