Flood Prevention Checklist: Protect Your Home From Broken Pipes and Other Water Damage

Flooding is one of the most common causes of damage to a home, and water damage accounts for nearly a quarter of homeowners’ insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Whether it’s the result of a massive storm or faulty plumbing in your home, flooding can be disastrous. Therefore, it’s best to take action now to ensure your home is protected from flooding and other types of water damage.

In this guide, we present a checklist of nine things you can do today to protect your home and belongings from water damage.

Know your flood risk

One of the most important steps in preventing residential flooding is to assess your flood risk. Certain parts of the country face a higher risk of flooding and therefore need to take extra precautions to keep their homes safe and dry. Any area with a probability of flooding of at least one percent is considered by FEMA to be a special flood risk area. People in these areas should take increased measures to prevent flooding in their homes. You can use FEMA’s flood map to determine if your home is considered a high-risk area.

Seal the foundation of your home

If your home’s foundation is cracked, water can get in and cause damage. Water build-up can also weaken your home’s foundation over time and lead to more serious problems. Use mortar or joint compound to seal cracks and fill gaps in your foundation. You can also caulk your basement walls to further waterproof them.

Keep your gutters clear

Clogged gutters and storm drains can prevent water from flowing freely, allowing it to pool and accumulate around your home. When water collects, it’s more likely to seep between clapboards, behind paneling, and into other cracks. The best way to avoid this is to schedule regular maintenance on your gutters, sinks and storm drains. Also, make sure your downspouts are pointing away from the house.

Install flood sensors

A flood sensor can help alert you immediately if your home is about to flood. These sensors are triggered when they come into contact with water, so place them behind toilets, under sinks, near appliances, and in your basement. If they alert you to a flood in your home even a few minutes earlier, they could save you hundreds of dollars – if not more.

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Flood sensors detect water when it makes contact with both metal probes on the device, allowing current to flow through.

Chris Monroe/CNET

There are many types of flood sensors to choose from, ranging in price from as little as $20 to almost $100. Some home security companies also offer flood sensors as part of their home security systems.

Repair water leaks

If you have any leaks in your pipes or roof – even minor ones – get them fixed as soon as possible. While these leaks haven’t caused any problems so far, they could point to places that are more likely to have problems in the future. The last thing you want is a huge rainstorm showing you how serious this tiny leak was. Even if you haven’t had any problems with leaks, it’s good practice to keep an eye on anything in your home that might leak so that you catch it right away. That means checking ceilings for water stains, checking under bathroom and kitchen cabinets for water-swollen wood, and checking the base of your air conditioner and water heater for signs of puddling.

Improve the classification of your garden

The classification refers to the shape and angle of your garden. An effective way to prevent flooding is to have your grading reviewed to ensure the land around your home is level and the lawn is not graded towards your home. If this is the case, water is likely to pool around your home when it rains, making it more likely to flood. Instead, your yard should be graded to allow rainwater to flow away from your home.

Install a sump pump

A sump pump is a device used to pump groundwater away from your home and away from your pipes and foundation. These devices are installed in the sump pit at the lowest point in your home, usually the basement. In case of heavy rain or moisture in the ground, the sump pump will turn on automatically and pump out the water. These devices can help keep your basement water-free and prevent problems like mold and mildew, foundation damage, and other disasters.

Increase devices and utilities

If you live in an area with frequent flooding — or water in your basement is a seasonal event — make sure you protect your appliances, utilities, and other electrical devices in your home. You can raise electrical switches, circuit breakers, and switches at least a foot off the ground to avoid electrical damage. You can also elevate your HVAC system and other vital equipment so they are not at the lowest level and less likely to be damaged in the event of a flood.


Depending on how flood prone your home is, you may want to elevate your equipment slightly to prevent damage from minor flooding.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Insure your home

In a perfect world, you would never experience a flood in your home. However, it’s not a bad idea to plan for the worst-case scenario.

Most home insurance policies cover sudden and unforeseen events such as burst pipes and other causes of flooding, such as flooding. However, if you neglect your pipes and they burst due to rust and age, your insurance likely won’t cover the damage.

If you live in an area with a high risk of flooding, you may need to purchase flood insurance for your home. Even if it isn’t necessary for you, you should still consider it depending on where you live.

The most important thing is to do your research: check your pipes for rust and damage, check the flood risk in the area and talk to neighbors about their problems.

What’s next?

Flooding and water damage are all too common problems for homeowners. However, taking the right precautions can help ensure your home is protected in the event of a storm or other unforeseen event.

Also, flooding isn’t the only danger your home faces. Be sure to visit our home safety checklist for seven more steps you can take to keep your home and family safe and secure.

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