May 27, 2015 // Home Inspiration

Prevent Basement Flooding

The following article from wikiHow is an excellent recap and quick checklist you should use to protect your basement from water damage. I felt it is worthwhile sharing this in my blog space as it covers many of the items I often talk about to clients. Also check out my additional blogs on “Sump Pump Installation” and “Sump Pump Maintenance.”

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki that is building the world’s largest and highest quality how-to manual. Please find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Protect a Basement from Flooding. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

How to Protect a Basement from Flooding

Your finished basement is your pride and joy. You’ve already spent thousands of dollars and countless hours converting your concrete dungeon into comfortable living space.

The last thing you need is a tidal pool of ground water or sewage infiltrating (I will cover the sewage prevention in a future blog – RKZ) your new home office or wet bar. A simple flash flood or a cresting creek can easily transform your new carpeting into a massive, moldy sponge.

Your basement isn’t “finished” without some flood prevention steps, actions to protect your home when flooding does occur and an emergency plan to provide for your family’s welfare until you can return to your home. You need layers of protection for the adequate safety of your family and property.

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1. Focus on prevention. Long before you’re in a flooding situation, look around your property for ways to divert rainwater away from your home. Important considerations are extending rain gutter down spouts away from your home and making sure the grade of your yard surfaces slope away from your home.

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2. Clean the rain gutters in the spring and after all the leaves have come down in the fall. Blocked gutters will cause all of the roof water to dump directly against your foundation, increasing the likelihood of basement flooding.

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3. Extend the rain gutter downspouts well out and away from your home. Do not connect the downspouts to your foundation footer drain tiles or to underground dry wells. This will only cause the roof water to further saturate the ground and cause flooding in your basement.

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4.Walk around outside in your yard during a heavy rainstorm. Watch to see if water is ponding next to your home and if surface water is being directed toward your home. If this is the case, seek a local landscaper or excavation contractor for advice on ways to regrade your yard so the surface water is directed away from your home.[1]

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5. Provide emergency power. Install an automatic emergency generator to provide electric service for essential circuits like your furnace or electric heat, well pump, refrigerator, septic tank pump and sump pump in the case when power is lost. Without emergency backup power, you may return home to unnecessary basement flooding, frozen water pipes and a flooded septic tank.

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6. Install a sump pump. An automatic sump pump should help keep water leakage normal amounts of rainfall from building up in the basement. As long as the sump pump tank has an opening in the lid, the sump pump will act like a huge floor drain and keep the water from getting deep.

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7.  Install a backup sump pump. The sump pump is your first line of defense against basement flooding. However, the most reliable sump pump available in the industry is still a mechanic device and can fail. A backup sump pump system, preferably with at least a battery-operated pump, configured with a switch device to begin working if the main is out of commission, greatly reduces the chance of flood. Some systems come with additional security features such as an alarm that goes off whenever the battery operated is started.

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8. Make an emergency family plan. Plan ahead with your family so that everyone has each other cell phone and other contact numbers. If you live in an area that is prone to historic flooding, plan ahead of time where you’ll be able to stay until flood waters subside. Keep in mind that all your neighbors will probably need housing too. As local hotels are usually inundated during flooding events, try to arrange ahead of time with some local family members away from the flooding area to have temporary housing if ever needed.

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9. Have flood insurance. Add flood insurance onto your existing homeowner’s policy. Flood insurance is provided by the government and is fairly inexpensive. In the USA, if your home insurance agent does not provide flood insurance, contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for local agencies that do.[2]


Meet the Author

Kent Zaitz

Kent Zaitz

Kent has been as a real estate agent specializing in both new home construction and resale homes for over 30 years. Kent and his wife Diane have marketed over 2,400 new homes, condominiums, townhouses and lots during their careers. They are well-versed in ‘Energy Star’ and ‘Built Green’ construction, ‘Smart Regs’ required by the City of Boulder for income units, and the ‘Build Smart’ program in Boulder County. Their understanding of new construction is very helpful when working in the resale market.


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