Home Improvement

How to Protect your House against Flooding

Story Highlights
  • 1) Assess your area
  • 2) Foundation vents and sump pumps can prevent flooding
  • 3) Clogged up gutters contribute to flooding
  • 4) Do some creative landscaping
  • 5) Check your water pipes, electrical outlets and foundation

With the recent flooding that KwaZulu-Natal experienced, homeowners are starting to look for ways to better protect their homes against flooding.

In light of recent events, it is clear that flooding can happen at any time. Areas that aren’t used to it, simply aren’t prepared for it.

The sheer destruction that occurred should be an eye-opener for any property investor no matter where in South Africa you might find yourself. 

Flooding can be caused by an excess of water building up in a specific area without there being proper drainage. This build-up of water affects businesses and homes located within the neighbourhood. You might not be able to save the whole neighbourhood. You can, however, save your own home.

Here are a few things to consider when the heavy rains fall again. 

1) Assess your area 

Before you start making changes around your house, you need to do a thorough assessment of your area.

You’ll need to determine how often and to what extent flooding occurs. This way you can prepare more thoroughly.

If you live in a low-lying area then heavy rains can very easily lead to a flood disaster. Slightly elevated areas are less likely to experience severe flooding.

Try to observe how the water flows around your home and how you can divert the water away from the structure of the house.

You also need to check whether your neighbourhood or city has exits that might potentially become flooded in the case of heavy rains. This will help you determine whether you can safely get out of your area if an emergency occurs.

2) Foundation vents and sump pumps can prevent flooding

During a flood, the water tends to pool up around the house and in the yard. This is something that you as a homeowner should try and avoid.

If you cannot divert the water away from the structure of the house, then you can consider installing foundation vents or sump pumps.

They provide an outlet for floodwater and allow water to flow through your home instead of pooling around it.

If you are busy building a new home, you can consider placing the house on stilts and installing foundation vents and sump pumps for added peace of mind. 

3) Clogged up gutters contribute to flooding

Cleaning your gutters is an annoying chore but it is extremely necessary. Clogged up gutters can lead to flooding and structural damage.

All the dirt and debris caught up in your gutter leaves very little space for the water to escape.

Rather than putting it off, maintain your gutters as much as you can.

You should also make sure that the downspouts are pointed away from the house. If they are pointed towards the corners of your house it can lead to pooling and eventually cause leaks in your house.

4) Do some creative landscaping

The way your lawn is laid out will make all the difference once flooding occurs.

If your lawn is leaning towards your house, then water will pool around the building.

You can regrade your lawn by using soil that contains clay and sand so that the rainwater runs off towards the street.

You can also plant a few shrubs along the side of your house to absorb rainwater during a storm. 

5) Check your water pipes, electrical outlets and foundation

Checking your water pipes, electrical outlets, and the foundation of your home should ideally form part of the regular maintenance of your house.

However, it does happen that homeowners forget to do this, especially during the dry season when flooding is the last thing on their minds.

Ensure that your water pipes and their accompanying valves are in working order. These valves should be able to prevent the sewage system from flooding and backing up in your home.

Your electrical systems and outlets should be at least half a meter from the typical flood level that your area experiences. This will prevent significant electrical damage.

Then you need to check the foundation of your house regularly. If you see any cracks or holes, fix them as soon as you can and preferably before the rainy season starts. 

Final thoughts

Flooding is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. It can lead to serious destruction and the aftermath is often devastating.

The stress of having to replace or repair your belongings and the structure of your home can cost thousands.

Then you have to deal with the emotional tragedy of a natural disaster occurring.

While it is true that you cannot prevent flooding entirely, these few tips will definitely help minimize the damage. 


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