Insight from WFPD: Easy steps to protect your home from flooding
Intense rain showers and spring snow melt may cause water to pond against your home's foundation. This condition can result in the water making its way inside. There are several easy steps you should take to lessen the chance of suffering water damage.
Inspect your rain gutters and down spouts on a regular basis. To prevent an overflow condition, the rain gutters need to be sized to handle at least a moderate rain fall event. Visually inspect the inside of the gutter and remove any debris that has accumulated. Leaf shields placed on your gutters do not guarantee the gutters will remain unobstructed. Look in the downspouts to make sure they are clear. Flush the downspout with a garden hose to make sure it is not clogged. Downspout extensions should be fastened to the downspouts to prevent the extensions from becoming disconnected, and they should be long enough to drain water at least five feet away from your building.
Check the condition of the dirt against the foundation. To obtain proper drainage the ground must slope away from your home with a minimum of one inch of drop for every one foot of distance from the foundation wall. If you find that you need to add dirt around your home, there are some cautions.
Do not add dirt above the line of which the foundation has been waterproofed. The water proofing prevents water from entering through the foundation. You may wish to apply additional waterproofing before adding dirt.
Do not add dirt along the foundation wall during periods of extended draught. As the ground dries out it shrinks and pulls away from the foundation resulting in a gap between the wall and the ground. By filling the gap during dry conditions you run the risk of damage to the foundation as the ground rehydrates and expands following a rain event.
Do not add dirt above drains installed in masonry walls or above the sill plates of the home's walls. Filling dirt above these lines can force water into the building and will result in moisture damage.
Window wells need to be sealed and securely fastened to the foundation wall. The top of the window well should extend two to three inches above the surrounding ground. Use a window well cover to prevent debris and rain water from entering. If the window is an egress window, make sure the cover can be removed easily. Water needs to be able to soak through the rock placed in the bottom of the well to the drain tile below. Make sure the rocks are not clogged with dirt or debris so that water may drain from the window well freely.
Sump pump hoses should be placed to discharge water several feet away from the foundation. Discharging the water into the street or directly into a storm sewer is the best way to prevent the water from reentering your home.
Shut off your garden hose when not in use, and inspect sprinkler systems for leaks. Allowing hoses or pipes to leak next to your home saturates the ground, sending more water into your sump pump.
There are things you can do inside your home as well to prevent water damage. Place a sanitary sewer back flow preventer in your sewer line. The valves are commonly installed in newer homes but can be added to older homes. The back flow preventer closes a valve and stops water from entering your home when the sewer system is over loaded.
Inspect and clean the intake of your sump pump. Check the float system for smooth operation. Install a check valve in the discharge line to prevent water from flowing back into the sump pit, and inspect it regularly to ensure proper function. Consider installing a back-up sump pump system that will operate during a power outage. Your plumber can assist in making sure your sump pump is adequately sized to your home.
With periodic maintenance and some simple preparation, you can prevent a rain storm from ruining your home.