Are You At Risk?
If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk from
flooding, check with your local floodplain manager, building
official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator.
They can tell you whether you are in a flood hazard area.
Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and
your house and property from flooding.
What You Can Do
Flood protection can involve a variety of changes to your
house and property -- changes that can vary in complexity and
cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself.
But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect
the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and
plumbing should be carried out only by a professional
contractor licensed to work in your state, county, or city.
One example of flood protection is raising the components of
your electrical system above the level of the 100-year flood.
This is something that only a licensed contractor should do.
Raise Electrical System Components
system components, including service panels (fuse and circuit
breaker boxes), meters, switches, and outlets, are easily
damaged by flood water. If they are inundated for even short
periods, they will probably have to be replaced. Another
serious problem is the potential for fires caused by short
circuits in flooded systems. Raising electrical system
components helps you avoid those problems. Also, having an
undamaged, operating electrical system after a flood will help
you clean up, make repairs, and return to your home with fewer
As shown in the figure, all components of the electrical
system, including the wiring, should be raised at least 1 foot
above the 100-year flood level. In an existing house, this
work will require the removal of some interior wall sheathing
(drywall, for example). If you are repairing a flood-damaged
house or building a new house, elevating the electrical system
will be easier.
Keep these points in mind when you have your electrical
system components raised:
- Electrical system modifications must be done by a
licensed contractor, who will ensure that the work is done
correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is
important for your safety.
- Your contractor should check with the local power
company about the maximum height that the electric meter
can be raised.
- If your house is equipped with an old-style fuse box or
low-amperage service, you may want to consider upgrading
to a modern circuit breaker system and higher-amperage
service, especially if you have large appliances or other
electrical equipment that draws a lot of power.
Raising the electrical service panel, meter, and all of the
outlets, switches, and wiring in a 1,000-square-foot,
single-floor house will cost about $1,500 to $2,000. If this
work is performed during the repair of a damaged house or
construction of a new house, the cost may be much lower.
Other Sources of Information
- Protecting Your Home from Flooding, FEMA, 1994
- Repairing Your Flooded Home, FEMA-234, 1992
- Flood Emergency and Residential Repair Handbook, FIA-13,
- Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures,