Flood Prevention Renovations

All of these projects will help protect your home and belongings from flood damage. Some of them also could lower your flood insurance costs. These cost-saving actions include elevating your home, mechanical equipment, and major appliances. Filling in your basement or crawl space also could lower the cost. Most of these jobs will require professional assistance from an electrician, plumber, or engineer.

The cost of these projects can range from $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars — even $100,000 or more to elevate your home. For that reason, you should get an independent opinion from a drainage specialist or a home inspector with expertise in drainage issues. They can help you determine whether these steps would be helpful and if they are worth the cost.

Do not seek your initial advice from contractors. They will have a financial incentive to tell you the project is necessary so you will pay them to do the work.

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Install a sump pump with battery backup.

  • Sump pumps are used to remove water from basements and other low areas. Install one in the basement floor.
  • The pump draws in the groundwater from around the house and directs it away from your home through drainage pipes.
  • Choose a model with a battery backup so it will continue to work if the power goes out.

Install sewer backflow valves.

  • These valves allow wastewater to flow through the pipes in only one direction — out of your house. This prevents the water from rising up into your home through toilets, sinks, and other drains.
  • Backflow valves should be installed by a qualified, licensed plumber.
  • Also consider installing drain plugs for all basement floor drains. You usually can do this yourself. Use a floating drain plug, which allows water to drain out during normal times. When water backs up into the drain, such as in a flood, the float rises and plugs the drain.

Fill in your basement or crawl space.

  • This is an alternative to elevating your home, which is the most expensive option. Filling in your basement is still expensive, but it can reduce your flood insurance costs.
  • The space is filled with compacted sand or stone.
  • You will need to consult with an engineer to make sure filling in the basement or crawl space is safe. In some instances, it could damage the structure of your home.
  • You also will need to install flood vents. These are small permanent openings that allow floodwater to flow freely through the space. This prevents water pressure buildup that can destroy walls and foundations.

Elevate mechanical equipment, major appliances, and electrical systems.

  • Move the main parts of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to a higher floor. This will not always lower your flood insurance costs, but it can in some cases.
  • Elevate major appliances such as washers, dryers, and hot water heaters. The best method is to move them from a basement or lower level to an upper floor. If that is not possible, place them on top of a base made of masonry, concrete, or pressure-treated lumber.
  • Increase the height of your fuse and circuit breaker boxes. They should be either 2 feet above floor level or at least 1 foot above the base flood elevation. “Base flood elevation” refers to the height of water expected from a level of flooding that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year.
  • Do the same for all outlets, switches, and wiring. This will prevent low-level flooding from damaging your home’s electrical system. Choose wire rated for underground use if it has to run through areas that could get wet.
  • All electrical changes should be made by a licensed electrician.

Elevate your home.

  • Elevation means raising a structure so that the lowest floor is at or above the base flood elevation.
  • A new foundation is put under the elevated structure. Stairs and landings then are built to provide access to the main floor.
  • When a structure is properly elevated, the living area will be above all but the most severe floods.
  • A homeowner who elevates his or her home can save 30 to 60 percent on the annual cost of flood insurance.
  • Elevating your home will cost tens of thousands of dollars. You might be able to get financial assistance.