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A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Home for A Flood

There’s a long winter ahead of us, and something even more menacing awaits us on the other side—flood season. As the snow and ice melt, many areas of the U.S., especially in the East, are subject to heavy flooding. This can be catastrophic for those households that are unprepared.

Are you worried about the dangers of flooding in your area? This article will fill you in on how to prepare your home for flood season. 

We’ll cover every important aspect of preparing your home for a flood. This include such as how to find out if your home is in a flood zone. Moreover what the typical dangers of heavy floods are. Of course, we will have plenty of crucial tips for you to know what steps you can take to protect your family’s house from major water damage.

Is My Home in a Flood Zone?

Unbeknownst to many homeowners, there is a huge amount of real estate that sits directly within flood plains across the United States. The overflow can be devastating. This is when the land and its lakes or rivers become too encumbered by high amounts of water.

According to Popular Science, “Nearly 15 million American properties are at substantial risk of flooding in the next 30 years, and more than three million are almost certain to be underwater at some point in that time.” If that sentence doesn’t make you a little uneasy, we don’t know what will.

FEMA Flood Map Service

So, how exactly do you find out if you are in a flood zone? The FEMA Flood Map Service is your answer. Using this tool, you can discover how high the risk of flooding is in your area. It’s actually regularly updated. If you do find your property within flood plains, it’s worth your time to check back in every so often.

The FEMA Flood Map ranks geographical areas by how prone to flooding they are. This can vary greatly, from places like upstate New York that experience essentially zero flooding to places like Central New York and a good chunk of Northern Pennsylvania, which can average 30+ flash floods per year. 

For reference, moderate- to low-risk flood areas are designated with the letters B, C, and X on FEMA flood maps. If you find your home in one of these areas, you may not feel the need to prepare for a flood, but the danger is not completely gone. 1 in 3 insurance claims come from properties in B, C, and X-rated areas.

High-risk flood areas begin with the letters A or V on FEMA flood maps. These are where the other two-thirds of claims originate from. These areas see floods commonly enough that all homeowners with a mortgage loan from the government (or any federally backed mortgage) are required to purchase flood insurance.

This is a great tool for homeowners who may be looking to evaluate their risk of flooding, prepare accordingly, and/or weigh the necessity of flood insurance. 

What is Typical Flood Damage for Homes?

The dreaded “January Thaw” is a threat every year to towns around the state of Pennsylvania and many other locations. When the weather suddenly shifts its gears into Spring, the melting snow can cause dangerous floods. These can occur slowly over time, or ravage communities as instantaneous flash floods. This can cause serious water damage in basements, cellars, and foundations of buildings. 

Because water meets the base of your house first, your foundation will take a beating from harsh floods. Excessive moisture can create cracks and break down the concrete that makes up the foundation of your home. As you probably assume, this can rapidly become a major issue, during a flood or afterward.

When it comes to the interior, some of the most susceptible materials to water damage are upholstery, linens, and other similar objects. In the event of your house flooding you can expect some hefty damage to furniture, clothes, blankets, carpeted floors, and more. The mold that follows presents its dangers. Water can bring in residue from outside, and often leaves a terrible smell once dried. 

Water within the home will also warp wooden floors and weaken support beams and walls. While there isn’t always such extreme structural damage from floods, it is certainly a factor that should be considered. All the repairs for flood damage can cost you a pretty penny, so it’s worth putting in the extra work ahead of time to prepare your house. 

How to Prepare Your Home For Upcoming High Water Or Floods?

There are a few areas where preventative measures can go a long way. Flooding is one of the most difficult calamities to prepare for, especially in a residential setting. It’s important to cover all of your bases! Water can become an issue anywhere on your property, so following these tips can save you a lot of pain:

Learn How To Properly Seal Your Home

You should take the time to examine the construction of your home to make sure it is adequate to withstand large amounts of moisture. For example, joint sealants can be applied to new or old materials to prevent any liquid from entering through cracks and spaces. Focus on common issues such as window and door frames.

Sealing windows and doors don’t have to be pricey. Some simple products are all it takes to save you from thousands in water damage remediation. 

Flood gates are a slightly more involved operation, but are still quick, easy, and effective. These are metal barriers shaped to fit right outside (or inside) doorways. Once put in place, you only need to adjust and tighten it with a wrench to completely seal off the entrance. Because they are quick to set up, you can keep them stored away for a rainy day.

Water-activated flood barriers are a lesser-known option that can save you plenty of stress. These are flat strips of material that soak up water when there is contact, quickly swelling to a few inches tall. They are essentially short, automatic sandbags! While this won’t stop a foot of water, it can be a quick fix when there is a smaller volume threatening your belongings.

Even just a good layer of caulk around the seams of the door and window frames (the seam between them and the wall, NOT your door and the frame!) will do wonders. The older frames get, the higher the chance that the wood has deteriorated slightly, posing a risk for leaks.

Utilize Good Flooring Options

There is a range of materials that can be used for flooring that will make preventing and fixing flood damage much easier for you and your family. Choosing the right flooring can be the difference between simply removing water and needing to buy an entire new floor. 

Two great options are common among homeowners in flood-prone areas. Both are choice picks for their waterproof properties and airtight seams. 

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile is one of these, and probably the most popular choice for its aesthetic appeal and easy-peasy installation. The ceramic tile itself is impenetrable by water, and that’s not to mention the grout that is filled in between each tile. This closes the spaces between and leaves zero seams that water could take advantage of.

That being said, you need to have a professional install ceramic tiles so that it truly is airtight. Grout that is installed improperly will only lead to further repairs down the road. Ceramic tiles also require occasional cleaning, particularly if you have a buildup of moisture. The grout itself sits slightly lower than the tile and can be a hotspot for mold if left unchecked for long periods.

The second flooring option worth considering is vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring is available in rolls, tiles, or planks and is adhered using a latex flooring adhesive. Homeowners in flood-prone areas love this type of flooring because it is solid, waterproof, and has very few (if any) seams for water to sneak through.

The only seams you may encounter are if your floor is installed in pieces, but if properly installed with the right adhesive, you should be able to sleep tight knowing that water will not be seeping in underneath to wreak havoc. Again, this is a job that calls for a professional, but the payoff is worth it. 

Leak-Proof Your Roof

There are quite a few roofing options that work effectively to prevent leaks, while still appearing conventionally attractive. As important as aesthetics are, it’s should be a higher priority to keep your gutter from dumping water into the attic. Homeowners should evaluate their roofs for points of concern, such as loose shingles, blockages in gutters, and holes in the attic.

Solutions can range from liquid applications to rubber and even asphalt! But it goes much further than just sealing cracks and openings. Experienced roofers can install waterproof barriers on eaves, vents, chimneys, skylights, and other spots on the roof that are likely to leak.

Seal Any Crack In Your Foundation

It is not uncommon for the water to sneak its way into the base of your house through the foundation. When flooding gets heavy enough, the ground becomes quite saturated, and easy for water to soak through. If there are cracks or other faults in your concrete foundation, this can become a big problem.

Once water is chugging along into the base of your home, you will have a tough time slowing the flow. This is why having your foundation examined and proper repairs done is a key step in flood-proofing your house. Sealing foundation cracks is not something you can do in the thick of it — this is a preventative step and one that should be considered. 

Your best bet for sealing off any problematic areas would be mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement. These are perfect for closing off any cracks or openings in your foundation because they expand to fill the space, leaving no path for moisture to enter. This should be applied to any necessary spots both inside and outside of your home.

Revise Your Landscaping

The grade of your lot, especially near your foundation, will play a large part in how a flood will affect your property throughout a storm or flash flood. You should be able to visually pick out the problem areas on your land during a good rainstorm. Is water pooling in your yard, or even worse, near your foundation?

Take the time to build up the earth that surrounds your foundation so that water naturally runs off away from the structure. If necessary, dig small paths for water to channel itself away from your home. The end goal is essentially to keep water from going any closer to your house than from where it landed.

It should be mentioned that you can only do so much when it comes to landscaping, particularly with underground water. It’s smart to invest in a sump pump, which is installed in a basement to suck water out of the ground beneath you and pump it away from your house. This can heavily alleviate leakage and aid in getting water out of your basement if it does happen to flood inside.

Should I Buy Insurance to Prepare My Home for A Flood?

Did you know that only 30% of homeowners in high-risk areas for floods have flood insurance? This is one particular instance where you should not just “go with the flow.” Flood insurance can save you major headaches over your financial situation, which is the last thing you need when dealing with heavy repairs that disrupt your home life.

Your standard homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover floods, so it is up to you to seek out a policy to insure your building and belongings. While there is always a chance that federal aid may be offered to those experiencing the fallout of major floods, actual flood insurance will cover you even if the disaster is not federally recognized.

Policy coverage for flood disasters is available to anyone living within the city limits of places that participate in the National Flood Program. Luckily for us in Pennsylvania, there are only 19 small municipalities in the entire state that do not participate. Flood insurance is purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

You can learn more about flood insurance at

If You Can’t Prepare, Compleat Restorations is Here to Repair

When your family’s home is on the line, it’s not worth messing around with anyone but the pros. Our team understands the trauma associated with catastrophic loss and is committed to listening and responding to your needs. Compleat Restorations has over 40 years of experience in both residential and commercial cleaning and restoration. 

Rapid response is essential to minimize damage, control costs, and prevent microbial growth. When you need emergency water restoration services, our team responds, on-site, within two hours of your call—that’s 24/7/365.

Compleat Restoration’s water damage inspection process includes:

  • Determining the class and category of water damage
  • Creating a comprehensive plan to restore your property
  • Explaining the process and answering any questions
  • Working with your insurance company

This is followed up with the important stuf. Efficient water extraction, closely monitored drying, and the restoration of water-damaged household belongings. We want to get you, your family, and your life back on track after a mishap like a flood.

Read more about Compleat’s residential water damage restoration here!