Return to the Blog Home Page

5 Home Flood Prevention Tips

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
home flood prevention

Home flood prevention is a common concern among homeowners and insurers alike. Statistics show losses due to residential fires have notably declined in recent years. Meanwhile, damage from indoor flooding has surged. This increase could be for many reasons: aging plumbing, an increasing number of appliances connected to water lines, even a growing trend toward installing washing machines on upper floors of homes.

That’s why effective home flood prevention is now a front-and-center issue. Here are 5 ways not to become the next statistic:

1.There’s no such thing as a ‘minor’ leak

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward any plumbing leaks, drips or other evidence of seepage from pipes, connections, or fixtures, no matter how small. Frequently these are harbingers of major indoor flooding events. Have any plumbing issues inspected immediately by a qualified plumber.

2. Basements are ground zero for indoor flooding

Install a basement sump pump. Water supply lines are frequently routed there. Saturated soil during heavy rains can infiltrate and flood the basement. A sump pump automatically activates to pump water out of the basement into the backyard before floodwater accumulates.

3. Know how to shut off water to the house

Be sure you know where the main water shutoff valve is and how it operates (some are rotary valves, some are lever-operated). Check the valve for proper operation twice a year and call a plumber if it’s difficult to turn. Also, shut off the valve if you’re going away.

4. Install a sewer backflow valve

A sewage backup into a home is water damage of the worst kind. Toxic contamination makes the water damage recovery process very complex. A sewer backflow valve allows the sewage flow in one direction only—away from the house.

5. Replace aging washing machine supply hoses

Do it now. Rubber hoses become brittle and may rupture. This can cause catastrophic water damage without warning. Replace them with braided stainless steel lines that provide greater reliability and longer life.

4 Ways to Prevent Residential Flooding

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

How bad can it get if your house is flooded? Consider these insurance industry statistics: Just one inch of water loose in a home can inflict over $8,000 in water damage. Nine inches raises the total damage above $18,000. Of course, there’s no figure available for the irreplaceable family possessions that might be ruined, too.

While you can’t do much about water inundation from outdoor sources like a hurricane or overflowing river, indoor causes are more predictable. Here are four ways to prevent indoor flooding in your home:

Maintain and repair plumbing.

Don’t let risky plumbing issues persist. Even minor pinhole leaks in water supply lines or seepage around pipe joints may be indicators of internal corrosion that might trigger a major pipe rupture at any time. A broken 1/2-inch water supply line will typically release over 100 gallons of water into your home every hour until the supply is shut off.

Know where to shut off the water.

Know the location of the house main water shutoff valve and how to operate it. Shutoff valves that aren’t turned occasionally may eventually stick. Test the valve at least once a year to make sure it still operates freely. If it doesn’t, don’t force it—call a plumber. Also, locate the individual supply valves to each toilet, usually near the floor behind the toilet tank. Test each valve to ensure it turns freely. If a toilet overflow should occur, turning off water at that valve is the fastest way to limit flooding damage.

Inspect appliances.

Check the icemaker water line and its connection at the back of the refrigerator. Make sure it’s secure. Replace rubber washing machine supply hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are much less likely to rupture. Remove the kick plate at the bottom front of the dishwasher. Use a flashlight to look underneath for any signs of ongoing leakage.

Take precautions if you’re going away.

A broken pipe can be catastrophic if nobody’s home to notice and take appropriate action. Turn off the house water supply at the main water valve before you leave.

Can Landscaping Protect A House From Spring Floods?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Nothing can fully protect a home from water damage if it’s repeatedly exposed to outdoor flooding. Heavy spring rains often cause deep pooling in the yard adjacent to the house. This water can eventually penetrate most building materials (even concrete foundation) and damage the structure as well as the home’s interior. The best cure is prevention: Keep water and house as far apart from each other as possible. Here are some ways to use landscaping to protect your home from flooding during the rainy season.

Grade Wisely

If nearby ground is flat or actually slopes toward the house, water intrusion will be a problem in heavy rain. The ground should slope away from the house at a minimum of five degrees to divert water at least 10 feet from the house. A five-degree slope means the ground surface six feet from the house is three inches lower than the ground immediately next to the house.

Build Swales

A swale is a shallow, linear depression in the yard. During rain, it serves as a channel to redirect water away from the house, allowing it to soak into the ground along the way. A common yard swale is 6 inches to a foot deep and two feet or more wide. It can be seeded with grass, clover or other plantings to make it blend in. A swale to drain a residential yard is usually shallow enough to run a lawn mower over.

Plant Grass

Large bare spots in the yard actually cause water to flow along the surface of the ground faster and not be absorbed. The root structure of healthy growing grass makes soil absorb water more rapidly. Plant grass to cover large bare spots near the house. When mowing, don’t cut the grass too short, which shrinks its roots.

Install French Drains

Buried in a sloping, gravel-filled trench deeper than the home structure’s lowest point, a french drain consists of a perforated plastic pipe that collects underground water. The pipe is routed in a direction to discharge that water into a deeper, more absorbent area of the yard.

Be Prepared For Flood Emergencies In Your Home

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Flooding presents the most frequent as well as costliest damage to homes in the U.S. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, no home can be considered totally immune to flood risk from some source—indoor or outdoor. So, every home can benefit from advance preparation. Even one inch of water inside a residence can cause significant damage. Because flooding often occurs without advance warning, the time to get ready for flood emergencies is now.

  • Check the flow of water outside during average rainfall. Does water flow toward the exterior wall and foundation of the house instead of away? In flood conditions, this can provide an entry point into the house. The landscape around the perimeter of the house should be graded so water drains away from the house and standing water does not accumulate, even in heavy rain. Also, maintain gutters and downspouts to ensure that roof runoff is properly collected and diverted at least three feet away from the house.
  • Do you live in an area with a naturally high water table? Rising groundwater may surge upward into the basement or crawl space during heavy rain or outdoor flooding. A sump pump with battery backup feature should be installed in the lowest point of the basement floor or inside the crawl space to automatically actuate and pump out intruding water.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. If the municipal sewer system is swamped by floodwater, sewage may back up and enter the house through drains and toilets. Raw sewage is extremely toxic and requires extensive remediation to make the house safe to occupy. A backup valve installed in your sewage line prevents raw sewage from flowing backwards into the house.
  • Know how to turn off electricity safely. Indoor flooding can cause electrocution hazards. Know the location of your home’s main electrical panel and how to quickly shut off electricity before floodwater threatens. If the area near the electrical panel is already flooded or even wet, stay away. Call an electrician to shut off electricity at the meter.

3 Ways to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home While Traveling

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

leaving on vacationIt’s a homeowner’s nightmare scenario: Returning from a vacation or even just a weekend getaway to find your house inundated by catastrophic water damage. A quarter-inch crack in a water supply line releases more than 250 gallons in only a few hours. Imagine the potential damage if you’re away from home and leakage continues for days. As time elapses, water soaks deep into the structure, permanently deteriorating building materials. Possessions are ruined, toxic mold contamination is triggered.

Clearly, preventing water damage while you’re away is preferable to all other options. Here are three ways to ensure that your homecoming doesn’t include a distressing surprise.

Maintain The Plumbing

Don’t ignore early warning signs of failing pipes such as dripping beneath sinks and other fixtures, or in the basement or crawl space. Water heater ruptures are also another common source of water damage due to internal corrosion. Leakage from the tank is often a red flag of impending rupture. These issues should be resolved by a plumber.

Rubber hoses connecting the washing machine to hot and cold faucets behind the unit are prone to sudden failure and frequently implicated in severe home water damage. Replace rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and last longer.

Prevent Freezing

Indoor water supply lines can freeze and rupture during winter, particularly in a frigid, unoccupied house. If you’re going away, set the furnace thermostat to 60 degrees day and night while you’re gone. Open cabinets and closets to allow warm air to circulate into wall spaces where pipes are routed. If you have exposed supply lines in the crawl space or attic, consider installing pipe insulation to prevent freezing.

Turn Off The Water

For the most definitive water damage prevention, turning off all water to the house is a good idea. Locate the main water shutoff valve. If you don’t know, a plumber can show you where it is and also make sure you have the correct tool to operate it. Test the valve now, to verify it turns easily. If it’s difficult to turn, don’t force it—consult a plumber.

Hurricane Season Is Coming – Protect Your Home From Flooding!

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

flooded houseTo protect your home from flooding during hurricane season, you need to begin now. Hurricanes pose a double-whammy of water damage risk. Extremely heavy rainfall for a prolonged period is often associated with hurricanes, particularly as the storm front tends to stall after it makes landfall. The other, more devastating potential is a storm surge. This fast-rising “instant flood” driven by high winds pushes a wall of ocean water as far as 10 miles or more inland.

Most experts agree: By the time a hurricane watch is officially issued, it’s already too late to begin meaningful preparations to protect your home from flooding. While there’s still time, here are some suggestions to reduce the risks now:

  • Landscape accordingly. The contour of your landscaping should divert flood water away from the home on all sides. Also, soil type matters. Porous ground allows water to soak in before it inundates your home versus clay-like soil that resists absorption.
  • Get a sump pump. Hydrostatic pressure from deep water in a flooded basement can destroy the foundation. A sump pump with back-up battery power (assume that utility power will be interrupted) can remove water as it arrives, preventing major damage.
  • Install sewage backflow prevention valves. When the municipal sewage system is swamped during a hurricane, sewage often flows backwards, flooding houses connected to the system. A backflow valve releases reflux into your yard, preventing interior flooding.
  • Protect major entry points. Install storm windows or have 3/4-inch plywood already cut to size and pre-drilled to cover all windows. Also, get a hurricane-resistant garage door. A blown-out garage door can give heavy, wind-blown rain access to the interior of your home and expedite flooding.
  • Elevate critical systems. In hurricane risk zones, the main electrical panel, HVAC systems and water heater should not be in a basement. Relocate to an upper floor to prevent damage.
  • Add flood vents. Automatic flood vents allow moving floodwater to freely flow into and out of the crawl space under the house, reducing damaging pressure against the structure.

For more about effective measures to protect your home from flooding, contact Rytech, Inc.

3 Common Causes of Bathroom Flooding And How To Prevent Them

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

flooded bathroom
Because a bathroom typically contains more fixtures utilizing running water than any other room in the house, bathroom flooding is an all-too-common occurrence. Bathroom flooding can be particularly problematic because bathrooms are often located on an upper level. Water may migrate vertically, seeping through the subfloor and the ceiling below, causing expensive structural issues. Average damage due to bathroom flooding is over $10,000, making it one of the more costly home water damage events. Here are three common causes:

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet bowl usually results from a clog, often caused by attempting to flush paper products (or other objects) that are not meant for the toilet and do not disintegrate in water. To minimize damage, take these steps:

  • Know the location of the toilet water shutoff valve. Check it occasionally to make sure it turns freely.
  • If the bowl fills unusually high after one flush, don’t flush it again! This can cause an overflow. Consider it clogged and either plunge the toilet with a toilet plunger or call a plumber.
  • Often, overflows begin after the person has left the bathroom. After each use, linger a moment to make sure the toilet flushes fully and refills properly.

Stall Leakage

A shower stall incorporates a built-in pan concealed underneath it to catch leaks and divert water down the drain. Over time the pan may degrade and no longer hold water. If a leak develops in the stall or surrounding wall, water may escape and seep through the subfloor and the ceiling below, as well as flow out horizontally. If you notice water pooling on the bathroom floor after showering, or water stains on a ceiling, call a plumber.

Ruptured Supply Lines

Water supply lines in under-sink cabinets that feed bathroom faucets aren’t conspicuous. However, they can cause major damage. Drips or “minor” leakage is not normal. It’s a red flag that a total rupture and bathroom flooding could happen at any time. Close the water shutoff valve adjacent to the pipe and call a plumber.

 

Flood Damage: Protect Yourself In Advance

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

flood damageIs flood protection something you needn’t worry about because you don’t happen to live on a coastline or near a river? Not according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA reports that flooding from one source or another can happen virtually anywhere in the country. No state or locale is 100 percent immune to the possibility of flood damage. Maps are available from FEMA that depict your potential flood risk including estimates of how high the water level could potentially rise. With that information you can plan safeguards appropriate to your specific area. However, wherever you may live, these general flood protection guidelines can be applied to reduce the potential and extent of water damage due to flooding.

  • Check the gradient of your property. Is the landscape graded to divert water away from the house? When the foundation of the house is the low point on the lot, flood water flows toward it, greatly increasing the potential that damaging water will enter the house. Ask a landscape contractor about grading to divert water away.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. When localized flooding strikes, the municipal sewer system is often swamped by water. This excess pressure backs up through residential sewer pipes and floods the interior of homes with toxic raw sewage. A sewer backflow valve automatically diverts sewage reflux out a port installed in the sewer line so it doesn’t enter the house.
  • Raise mechanical systems. Basements typically accumulate deep standing water in a flood. If you have HVAC equipment, water heater, electrical panels and other critical systems installed in your basement, consider having these permanently raised to a level high enough to avoid potential contact with flood water.
  • Look into flood insurance. Standard homeowner’s insurance provides zero coverage for flood damage. To protect yourself against devastating losses, evaluate your risk and consider affordable flood coverage provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It’s sold and administered by local private insurance agents.

For more about what you can do to increase flood protection in your home, ask the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Prevent Leaks Before They Happen: Basic Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Professional water mitigation specialists frequently encounter the results of putting off preventive plumbing maintenance. Very few plumbing issues get better when neglected; most become more complicated and potentially damaging as time passes. By the time on-going leaks can no longer be ignored, the services of water mitigation specialists are frequently required to deal with recovery and restoration as well as long-term after-effects such as toxic mold growth.

Dealing with nagging leaks and other plumbing problems now prevents future consequences like severe household water damage. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Check beneath sinks, behind toilets and anywhere else water supply lines are visible for evidence of water leaks. Because leaks may occur intermittently, don’t ignore any signs of leakage—past or present. Take action to track down the cause.
  • Annually, drain your water heater to flush out sediment. A hardening layer of mineral sediment in the bottom of the tank not only substantially raises water heating costs, it accelerates tank corrosion that may trigger leakage and a complete tank rupture.
  • Don’t ignore unexplained increases in your monthly water bill. Severe leakage from water supply lines may persist undiscovered for a long time if the pipe is broken underground or in the slab foundation of the house. If your costs keep going up, ask a qualified professional plumber to find out why.
  • Does your washing machine use rubber hot and cold water supply hoses? Replace them with braided stainless steel lines. Rubber hoses have a short expected service life and may rupture without warning, flooding your house with hundreds of gallons of water.
  • Small leaks often precede major damage. A pinhole leak on the exterior of a galvanized steel water supply line frequently “weeps” intermittently, often sealing itself temporarily only to leak again. These tiny leaks can be a red flag warning of severe corrosion lurking inside the pipe that could cause a catastrophic rupture at any time. Pinhole leaks should be brought to the attention of a plumbing professional ASAP.

Contact the professional water mitigation specialists at Rytech Inc. for more tips on preventive plumbing maintenance.

Before Remodeling the Basement, Understand the Potential Flooding Risks

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Plans for remodeling the basement should include a strategy for preventing basement floods. A remodel or renovation of a basement can turn under-utilized square footage into useful living or recreation space. However, unlike an empty, unimproved basement, a renovated basement typically includes valuable possessions and upgraded structure, fixtures, and electrical system, all of which pose greater potential loss in the event of flooding.

The first step to preventing basement floods is finding out if one is likely. Consult the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website for flood maps that depict high-risk flood plain boundaries.

Also, take these considerations in mind also when investing in a basement remodel:

  • Grade properly. Make sure the contour of land slopes away from the foundation to prevent water infiltration through the basement wall. Be alert after a heavy rain for water pooling next to the foundation, a symptom of improper grading.
  • Install a sump pump and drainage system. A sump pump in the basement floor is your 24/7 safeguard against basement floods. It should include a battery-powered backup pump, as well. Before finishing the basement floor, ask your contractor about installing perforated drainage pipes under the floor to collect water and divert it into the sump basin.
  • Keep basement window wells clear. Accumulation of leaves, debris, or dirt in window wells prevents water from draining away from the window and promotes leakage into the basement.
  • Prevent gutter clogs. During a heavy rain, an overflowing gutter cascades hundreds of gallons of water onto the ground directly below. Heavily saturated soil forces water into the basement and subjects basement walls to extreme weight. Also, make sure downspouts carry water far enough from the house so it does not infiltrate the foundation.

For more on preventing basement floods that threaten your investment, contact Rytech, Inc.