Avoiding Flood Damage: A Checklist for Homeowner
From the Federal Emergency Management Agency
here to visit the FEMA website.
Are you looking for ways to protect your home from
flooding? There are many things you can do, depending on the
flood hazard in your area, the characteristics of your
property, and the zoning and building codes in your community.
Some methods are fairly simple and inexpensive; others will
require a professional contractor.
This homeowner's checklist will help you become familiar
with what you can do. For more information about the costs and
benefits of each method, talk to a professional builder,
architect or contractor. You should also ask your building
department about building permit requirements.
Do you know your flood risk?
Call your local emergency management office, building
department or floodplain management office for information
about flooding. Ask to see a flood map of your community.
There may be a projected flood elevation for your
neighborhood. This information will help you determine how
much water is likely to come in.
Do you have enough flood insurance?
Even if you have taken steps to protect your home from
flooding, you still need flood insurance if you live in a
floodplain. Homeowners' policies do not cover flood damage, so
you will probably need to purchase a separate policy under the
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It takes 30 days for
a flood policy to take effect. This is why you need to
purchase flood insurance before flooding occurs.
If your insurance agent is unable to write a flood policy,
call 1-800-638-6620 for information.
Is the main electric switch- box located above potential
The main electric panel board (electric fuses or circuit
breakers) should be at least 12" above the projected
flood elevation for your home. The panel board height is
regulated by code. All
electrical work should be done by a licensed electrician.
Are electric outlets and switches located above potential
Consider elevating all electric outlets, switches, light
sockets, baseboard heaters and wiring at least 12" above
the projected flood elevation for your home. You may also want
to elevate electric service lines (at the point they enter
your home) at least 12" above the projected flood
elevation. In areas that could get wet, connect all
receptacles to a ground fault interrupter (GFI) circuit to
avoid the risk of shock or electrocution. Have
electrical wiring done by a licensed electrician.
Are the washer and dryer above potential flood waters?
For protection against shallow flood waters, the washer and
dryer can sometimes be elevated on masonry or pressure-treated
lumber at least 12" above the projected flood elevation.
Other options are moving the washer and dryer to a higher
floor, or building a floodwall around the appliances.
Are the furnace and water heater above potential flood
The furnace and water heater can be placed on masonry
blocks or concrete at least 12" above the projected flood
elevation, moved to inside a floodwall or moved to a higher
floor. (You have more options for protecting a new
furnace. Ask your utility about rebates for new energy
efficient furnaces. The rebate plus the savings in fuel costs
could make the purchase feasible.)
Furnaces that operate horizontally can be suspended from
ceiling joists if the joists are strong enough to hold the
weight. Installing a draft-down furnace in the attic may be an
option if allowed by local codes. Some heating vents can be
located above the projected flood elevation.
Outside air conditioning compressors, heat pumps or package
units (single units that include a furnace and air
conditioner) can be placed on a base of masonry; concrete or
pressure treated lumber. All work must conform to state
and local building codes.
Is the fuel tank anchored securely?
A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel
to spill or catch fire. Cleaning up a house that has been
inundated with flood waters containing fuel oil can be
extremely difficult and costly. Fuel tanks should be
securely anchored to the floor. Make sure vents and fill line
openings are above projected flood levels. Propane tanks
are the property of the propane company. You'll need written
permission to anchor them. Ask whether the company can do it
first. Be sure all work conforms to state and local
Does the floor drain have a float plug?
Install a floating floor drain plug at the current drain
location. If the floor drain pipe backs up, the float will
rise and plug the drain.
Does the sewer system have a backflow valve?
If flood waters enter the sewer system, sewage can back up
and enter your home. To prevent this, have a licensed plumber
install an interior or exterior backflow valve. Check
with your building department for permit requirements.
You may have other options for avoiding flood damage
depending on your needs and financial resources. These include
building drainage systems around the property, sealing
openings such as low windows, building levees, constructing
exterior floodwalls around basement doors and window wells,
improving exterior walls, elevating buildings above projected
flood levels and relocating buildings away from floodplains.
For more information, talk to a professional builder,
architect or contractor. Ask your building department about
building permit requirements.
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