How to Prevent Flooding in the House: 10 Critical Steps to Take Now

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 26, 2024

When severe storms blow through your area, homes and businesses face the risk of flooding.

Are you prepared to weather our next deluge?

Unfortunately, very few homeowners have taken steps to prevent flooding in their home.

We see the devastation that heavy storms leave behind as we help people recover property and belongings after a flood. While we know that it’s impossible to water-proof a house, there are things you can do now that will make a difference the next time it pours. We’ve put together this list of 10 practical ways to prevent flooding in your home.

1. Figure Out Your Grade

There are several ways to improve drainage around the house, but you need to know the lay of your land before you get started. The next time it rains, grab an umbrella. Head outside, and track the direction of water flowing through your yard.

If storms leave puddles in the lawn and washouts around the foundation, address slope grading to redirect runoff away from your home and towards storm drains.

2. Keep an Eye on the Neighbors

A new structure on the property next to yours can divert heavy rains and soak different parts of your yard. Patios, driveway extensions and storage sheds all create impermeable areas that contribute to flooding.

If your neighbor plans on building something, talk with him about drainage solutions that can save you both the expense of flooded property and water damage.

3. Put Up a Wall

retaining wall is usually constructed to stop erosion, but it can also effectively prevent flooding in your home. Often, a wall can span and protect several properties.

The hardscaping serves double duty as a flood-control structure and an attractive addition to the landscape.

4. Dig a French Drain

This type of drainage system also requires some digging, but its design makes it very effective for handling heavy rainfall. A trench is usually dug around your home’s foundation, and then the trough is lined with gravel to form a bed for perforated pipe.

Once it’s buried, the French drain system channels storm runoff away from the house.

5. Stay on Top of the Roof

A heavy downpour can turn a few loose shingles into a disaster. Don’t risk your home flooding from the top down. Inspect the roof several times a year, and always check it for wind damage after stormy weather. If you’re facing a replacement, consider investing in a rubber roof underlayment.

The inexpensive material puts down a water-proof barrier under shingles and extends roof life.

6. Do Your Gutter Duty

They can’t do their job if you don’t keep them clean. Leaves and debris that accumulate in gutters eventually work into downspouts and cause even more clogging. When your roof’s drainage system fills up with storm water, the weight strains gutter seams and attachments.

Make gutter duty a routine, and be sure that downspouts direct heavy rainfall away from the foundation with extensions or splash blocks.

7. Vent the Basement and Crawl Spaces

Spare your home’s structure from the enormous hydrostatic pressure of surging storm water with flood vents. Also called flood ports, these openings allow water to enter the basement and then exit as flood levels recede.

While vents don’t technically protect the house from flooding, they greatly reduce the possibility of collapsing walls.

8. Protect Property with a Pump

A sump pump in the basement is one of your best defenses against home flooding. This tough appliance comes in a variety of models, but battery-powered pumps definitely have an advantage if you lose electricity. Here’s a link to a great article (if we may say so) that provides more information

Some homeowners use a small battery backup in conjunction with a larger sump pump.

9. Fortify Your Foundation

Surging floodwaters can turn small foundation cracks into fractures that threaten your home’s structural integrity. Always repair exterior and interior cracks as soon as possible with a polyurethane foam or epoxy compound.

Make foundation inspection a part of your flood-prevention routine around the house, and spare yourself the headache of cleaning up a soaked basement.

10. Firm Up Flood Insurance

Many homeowners don’t realize that their property insurance doesn’t cover flooding. You must purchase flood insurance separately, and it might not be available through your regular carrier. The coverage is affordable, but you have to weigh a number of factors including your location, policy limits and exclusions.

Consider your options, double check the final papers, and sleep better when the next storm blows through. If you’d like to know what to ask your flood insurance agent, take a look here.

Protect Your Home From Flooding

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It’s always our goal to share useful information that we know can help you around the house. We invite you to join our online community here by sharing your ideas about home flood prevention through our Comments Section.

Our 10 tips are based on our experiences in the field assisting homeowners with flood cleanup. For years, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba has been the preferred choice for flood damage cleanup in Chicago and the suburbs.

We’re very proud to serve this great city and its surrounding areas, and we’re here for you 24/7.