When your house floods, it can be overwhelming and distressing. It’s a situation that requires immediate action, and knowing what to do can make all the difference. In this essential guide, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take and help you answer the question, “What Do I Do If My House Floods?”
First, it’s important to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Turn off the electricity and gas supply to your house before entering any flooded areas. Then, assess the extent of the damage and document it for insurance purposes.
Next, you’ll need to remove as much water as possible from your house. Use buckets, mops, and towels to soak the water, or invest in a wet/dry vacuum to speed up the process. Open windows and doors for air circulation and prevent mold growth.
In this guide, you will also find answers on common causes of flood at home, What to do if your house floods, tips on preventing future flooding, and steps to take when dealing with insurance companies.
Don’t let a flooded house leave you feeling helpless because you can restore your home and return to normal with the right information and actions.
What Are the Common Causes of Floods at Home?
Some common causes of home floods are:
Blocked Drains: These are caused by a buildup of debris in the drainage systems around your home, such as leaves, dirt, and other materials. When this happens, water can no longer flow away from the house and can instead back into your home, causing floods.
Heavy Rainfall: Heavy rainfall can cause flooding when it rains more than the capacity of your drainage system or when it overwhelms natural or artificial barriers, such as rivers, dams, or levees. Excess water can accumulate and enter your house through doors, windows, or other openings on the lower level.
Burst Pipes: Burst pipes can cause massive flooding and damage your property and belongings. Pipes can burst for different reasons, like extreme weather conditions, corrosion, poor installation, and age. Constantly inspect and maintain your pipes to prevent this, especially during the colder winter.
Faulty Appliances: Faulty appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators, can develop faults that can create leaks that can lead to floods. Check your appliances occasionally to ensure they are connected properly, and contact a plumber if you notice any leakage or malfunction.
Poor Sewer Maintenance: Poor sewer maintenance can cause flooding when the sewer system becomes clogged, damaged, or overloaded. Sewer flooding can be very hazardous, contaminating your home with sewage and bacteria. Hire a professional to help clean and repair your sewer lines periodically, and avoid flushing or disposing of items that can block or damage the sewer system.
These are some common causes of home floods, but they are not the only ones. You can also experience flooding due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, storms, or snowmelt, or human errors, such as leaving the faucet or hose on.
You can prevent flooding in your home by taking some preventive measures, such as installing flood barriers, waterproofing your home, or landscaping your yard. You can also consult a flood prevention expert or a company for advice and assistance.
What to Do If My House Floods
If your house floods, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do. Flooding is a risk to your home safety and can cause serious damage to your property, belongings, and health and disrupt your normal life and activities.
However, there are some steps to deal with the situation and minimize the impact of flooding. Here are some of the most important things to do if your house floods:
Stay Safe: Your and your family’s safety should be your priority. If you are in immediate danger, evacuate the premises and move to higher ground. Please do not attempt to enter or cross floodwaters, as they can be fast-moving, contaminated, or electrified.
If you are not in immediate danger, but there is water in your home, turn off the electricity and gas before doing anything else. Do not touch any electrical appliances or switches standing in water.
If you smell gas, leave your home immediately and call the company. Wear protective attire, like rubber boots, gloves, and masks, to avoid contact with floodwater or mold.
Inform Your Insurer: Reach out to your insurance service provider to report the flood damage immediately. Follow their instructions and advice, and keep a record of your communication.
If you have flood insurance, your insurer will cover the damage or loss caused by flooding, which is usually not covered by your regular homeowners’ insurance policy. If you do not have flood insurance, you may qualify for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other sources.
Take photos and videos of the damage, and list your losses. Do not discard or repair anything until your insurer or adjuster inspects your home.
Remove the Water:
- Remove as much water as possible from your home after the floodwater recedes. You can drain the water using a bucket, a pump, or a wet/dry vacuum.
- Be careful not to overexert yourself, and take breaks as needed.
- Dispose of the water safely and legally, such as in a storm drain or a sewer.
- Do not dump the water in your yard, which can cause further flooding or contamination.
Clean and Dry Your Home: After removing the water, you need to clean and dry your home soon to prevent mold and mildew growth. You can use bleach, vinegar, or other disinfectants to sanitize your home and kill bacteria or fungi.
You can also use fans, dehumidifiers, or heaters to speed up drying. Open the windows and doors to ventilate your home and reduce the humidity. Throw away any items beyond repair or pose a health risk, such as carpets, mattresses, or food.
Salvage any items that can be cleaned or restored, such as furniture, clothing, or documents. You may need a professional cleaning or restoration service to help you with this task.
Repair and Rebuild Your Home: After cleaning and drying your home, you must repair and rebuild any damage caused by the flooding. You may need to replace or fix your flooring, walls, ceilings, insulation, plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems. You may also need to repaint or refinish your home. You may need a qualified professional to help you with this task.
Ensure you obtain permits and inspections from your local authorities before starting work. Consider flood-proofing your home, such as elevating, waterproofing, or landscaping, to reduce the risk of future flooding.
These are some things to do if your house floods, but they are not the only ones. After a flood, you may also need to care for your health, finances, emotions, and community.
Ways to Prevent Flooding In Your Home
Flooding is one of the most common and costly natural disasters affecting your home. Flooding can cause damage to your property, belongings, and health and disrupt your normal life and activities.
Flooding can occur because of different factors, such as heavy rainfall, storm surges, melting snow, overflowing rivers, or broken dams. Climate change can also increase the severity of flooding, as it can cause sea level rise, more intense storms, and more extreme precipitation.
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent flooding in your home, indoors and outdoors. Here are some of the most effective and practical ways to flood-proof your home:
Assess Your Flood Risk: The first step to prevent flooding in your home is to assess your current flood risk. You can visit Floodsmart.gov, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website, to check if your home is in a flood zone or a high-risk area. Knowing your flood risk can help you decide what measures to take to protect your home and whether you need flood insurance.
Subscribe to Flood Insurance: If your home is in a high-risk area or you want to be prepared for any potential flood event, you should buy flood insurance. Flood insurance can cover the cost of damage or loss caused by flooding, which is usually not covered by the standard homeowners’ insurance cover.
If you qualify, you can buy flood insurance via the NFIP or a private insurer. You should compare the coverage, cost, and terms of different flood insurance options and choose the one that suits your needs and budget.
Elevate Your Home: It’s one of the most practical methods of preventing flooding in your home.
Elevating your home can involve raising the entire structure on stilts, piers, or columns or lifting only the lowest floor above the ground. Elevating your home can significantly reduce the chance of water entering your home and lower your flood insurance premium.
However, elevating your home can also be costly and complex and may require permits and inspections from your local authorities.
Waterproof Your Home: Another way to prevent flooding is to waterproof your home, especially the basement and the foundation. Waterproofing your home can involve sealing cracks or gaps in the walls, floors, or windows using hydraulic cement, masonry caulk, or waterproofing sealants.
Waterproofing your home can also involve installing drainage systems, like sump pumps, French drains, or backflow valves, to divert or remove excess water from your home. Waterproofing your home can prevent or minimize water seepage and leakage or backup and protect your home from mold and mildew.
Landscape Your Yard: A third way to prevent flooding in your home is to landscape your yard, using plants, rocks, or other materials to reduce runoff and erosion. Landscaping your yard can involve planting native or drought-resistant plants, such as grasses, shrubs, or trees, to absorb water and stabilize the soil.
Landscaping your yard can also involve creating rain gardens, swales, or berms to collect and filter water or installing rain barrels, cisterns, or permeable pavements to store or infiltrate water. Landscaping your yard can enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space and can also benefit the environment and wildlife.
These are some ways to prevent flooding in your home, but they are not the only ones. You can also use other methods, such as relocating valuables, installing flood sensors, or preparing an emergency kit to protect your home and family from flooding.
How to Deal With Insurance After Home Floods
Dealing with insurance after home floods can be stressful and complicated, but recovering from the damage and loss caused by flooding is also necessary. Here are some tips and steps on how to deal with insurance after home floods:
Contact Your Insurer As Soon As Possible: The first thing you should do after a flood is to contact your insurance company and report the flood damage.
You should have your policy number, contact information, and a brief description of the damage ready. Your insurer will give you a claim number and an adjuster who will inspect your home and assess the extent and cost of the damage.
Follow your insurer’s instructions and advice, and keep a record of your communication.
Document the Damage: Before starting cleanup or repair work, document the damage as thoroughly as possible. You should take photos and videos of the water and any affected areas, such as walls, floors, furniture, appliances, or personal belongings.
List your losses, including the details of each item, model, brand, price, or receipt. It would help if you did not discard or repair anything until your adjuster inspects and approves your home.
Review Your Policy and Coverage: You should review your policy and coverage to understand what is covered and what is not covered by your insurance. You should also check your deductible, which you must pay out of pocket before your insurance pays for the rest.
You should know that your regular homeowners’ insurance policy mostly does not cover flood damage unless you have a separate insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private insurer.
You should also know that there may be limits or exclusions on certain damage or items, such as basements, landscaping, or jewelry.
Work With Your Adjuster: You should work with your adjuster to make your claim happen. You should provide your adjuster with the documentation and evidence of the damage and answer any questions they may have.
It would be best to cooperate with any requests or inspections they may need to conduct. You should be honest and accurate with your adjuster and avoid exaggerating or inflating your claim. You should also keep track of your expenses and receipts, such as for temporary repairs, cleanup, or relocation, and submit them to your adjuster for reimbursement.
Negotiate and Settle Your Claim: You should negotiate and settle your claim with your adjuster. You should review the estimate the settlement offer your adjuster provides and ensure that it is fair and reasonable.
You should also check the payment method and timeline your adjuster proposes and ensure it is convenient and prompt. If you disagree or have any issues with your adjuster, try to resolve them amicably and professionally.
You can also seek a second opinion by hiring a public adjuster or file a complaint with your state insurance department if necessary.
These are some tips and steps on dealing with insurance after home floods, but they are not the only ones. After a flood, you may also need to care for your health, finances, emotions, and community.
Conclusion: What Do I Do If My House Floods?
In conclusion, experiencing a flooded house can be overwhelming, but following the appropriate steps can minimize the damage and restore your home to its condition before floods.
Remember to prioritize safety, document the damage for insurance, and seek professional help. By staying calm and taking the necessary actions, you can navigate through this difficult time and ensure the safety of your property and family.