Maybe you came a little too close for comfort during the floods of Hurricane Florence. Or, maybe you were directly impacted and are looking for some additional tips to safeguard your home for next hurricane season. Here are a few things to consider.
Flooding is the most common and one of the more costly weather disasters in North Carolina.
Protecting your property from flooding can involve a variety of actions, from inspecting and
maintaining the building to installing protective devices. Most of these actions, especially those
that impact the structure of your building or their utility systems, should be carried out by
qualified maintenance staff or professional contractors licensed to work in your area.
1. Anchor and elevate outdoor equipment: Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above flood level. Fuel tanks that are not anchored can break free, and severed supply lines will contaminate the ground. Electrical power units and generators should never sit on the ground
because they can be inundated by water and rendered.
2. Protect in-home electrical and climate systems: Switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring should be at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area. Modify your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment so that it sits above your property’s flood level.
3. Modify your water valves: A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home, that can be avoided by installing an interior or exterior backflow gate valve on all pipes entering the house. Gate valves are more complex, and you operate them by hand. But they provide stronger seals than flap or check valves, which open automatically to allow water to flow out and then close when water tries to get in.
4. Determine how water flows around your house: The grading or slope of the ground can direct water to your house or away from it. Obviously, it’s best if the home was built so that water drains away from it. You can determine this by observing how water flows or accumulates during an average rainstorm. If your street is prone to have standing water after an ordinary rainstorm, talk to your county planning or environmental services department. A major part of their job is water flow, and they can make suggestions.
5. Take extreme measures: Opt for a retrofit. If your home floods frequently and moving isn’t an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures. Raise your home on piers or columns so that the lowest floor is above the flood level is an expensive undertaking, costing at least $20,000. But you can “wet proof” your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least two vents on different walls. A 1,000-square-foot house would require 7 square feet of flood vents. Do some “dry-proofing” by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep
6. As waters rise, take last-minute measures:
• Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.
• Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them
off the ground floor.
• Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.
• Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re in danger of being flooded.