15 Money-Saving Tips to Protect Your Home From Flooding

INSURANCE - HOME INSURANCE
Severe flooding damage is a risk even if you don’t live in a flood zone.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Flooding can happen anywhere. When heavy rains hit, you don't want to be left without flood insurance.

Homeowners who live near large bodies of water or rivers probably have flood risk on their radar, but others — particularly those who don't live in designated flood zones — often find themselves uninsured and up a creek when the rain starts to fall.

Are you ready to mitigate your risk? Here are 15 steps you can take today to boost your financial fitness by protecting your home against flooding.

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Understand your risk

Jürgen Fälchle/Adobe flooded house

Floods can happen anywhere, but your risk is almost certainly higher if you live in a flood zone.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has flood maps that can help you determine the level of threat to your home.

Understand your risk, your base flood elevation, and whether your neighborhood or home has flooded in previous storms. This is a jumping off point to determine the best precautions to have in place.

Look into flood insurance

WESTOCK/Adobe man checking documents

The federal government provides flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, so failure to carry flood insurance can be financially disastrous if a flood strikes.

Also, you cannot buy flood insurance while you watch the next big hurricane make landfall in your community — there is typically a 30-day waiting period before your policy goes into effect.

So, look into coverage. Don’t assume that you can skip flood insurance simply because you do not live in a flood zone. About 40% of NFIP flood claims come from outside high-risk flood zones, according to the federal government.

Consider flood-resistant architecture

and.one/Adobe water pipe leak

If you are planning a renovation or tackling a new build, look into architectural options that will prevent your home from flooding.

For example, this could mean putting your house on stilts if you are close to water or building on higher ground on your lot.

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Choose flood-resistant materials

ronstik/Adobe woman holding bucket

Beyond flood-resistant architecture, choose materials in your home that do a better job of standing up to water.

For example, choose tile over carpet, as tile is less likely to be damaged during a brief flood.

Clean your gutters

JJ Gouin/Adobe clogged gutter

A thorough cleaning of leaves and debris from your gutters in the fall and spring can help lower the risk of flooding.

Keeping the gutters clean will prevent water from overflowing and potentially flooding into your home.

Install a sump pump

IcemanJ/Adobe sump pump

In some homes, flooding in the basement is a regular occurrence that can happen with even a small storm. Over time, that can cause damage.

One fix is to install a sump pump to pump the water out. Often, these have a battery backup, since the same storms that require the use of a sump pump can also knock out your power.

Make sure drainage is clear

Grandbrothers/Adobe unclogging the drain of sink

A drain is only helpful if it is clear. So, make sure any drains around your home, such as French drains, remain free of debris.

Drains free of clogs let water flow out of harm’s way.

Grade your lot away from your home

JJ Gouin/Adobe sewer system drainage grate

Never let water flow toward your home. If you notice that it does this during storms, you may need to look into having your lot graded.

You can also adapt your landscaping or create trenches that will give the water a path to funnel away from your home and foundation.

Check for foundation cracks

agenturfotografin/Adobe janitor standing with checklist

Cracks in your home’s foundation can let water in. This can lead to serious problems and weaken the foundation.

Fill in or seal small cracks as soon as they appear so floodwater doesn’t have a chance to enter. For bigger cracks, bring in a professional.

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Have temporary flood barriers on hand

Alena Stalmashonak/Adobe flooding street

If you live in a flood-prone or hurricane-prone area, it is wise to have temporary flood barriers on hand.

Sandbags, inflatable dams, or metal flood barriers can help stave off rising flood waters.

Maintain green space

Smole/Adobe landscape gardener laying turf

When water hits concrete or asphalt, it runs off to the next place. By contrast, dirt and grass absorb the water.

That means maintaining green space within your yard will give the water somewhere to go and keep it from flowing toward your home.

Don’t put appliances on the ground level

Shotmedia/Adobe  dryer sheets into the dryer

When it is possible, having appliances on the second floor or elevated off the ground can be a big help in the event of a flood.

Damage to these items can be among the most expensive losses, and keeping such appliances off the first floor can mitigate the risk.

Keep valuables in a waterproof spot

Galina Zhigalova/Adobe hotel safe

From your Social Security card to a birth certificate or wedding ring, valuables should not be kept in a spot where water can damage them or sweep them away.

Keep these items in a safe, waterproof spot, far above the ground.

Install flood vents in a crawl space

christian.bitzas/Adobe space under house

Mitigate the risk of flooding in a crawl space by installing flood vents, which will give floodwater a space to flow out if waters rise.

This can also help prevent damage to walls and foundations from the pressure of water. But, just like drains, these vents only work if they are kept clear.

Point downspouts away from the house

Lost_in_the_Midwest/Adobe frozen ice block

Keeping water away from the house is always crucial when the threat of flooding rises.

Check the downspouts around your home to make sure they are pointed away from the house and that nothing has shifted since the last time you checked them.

Bottom line

Antonioguillem/Adobe couple calling to insurance

You can’t prevent a flood. However, you can take the right steps to make sure you are prepared before, during, and after the event.

Purchasing flood insurance is key. A good flood insurance policy will cover your home's structure and protect your home appliances and other personal property.

Once your coverage is in place, following the tips on this list can help keep your home safe when the waters rise.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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