How to protect your home against flooding
Hints and tips to help you beat the tide of bad weather
More than five-and-a-half million properties in England and Wales are deemed to be at risk from flooding. But, even if your own home hasn’t been directly affected, it’s hard to ignore the damage and distress that recent flooding has caused thousands of homeowners across the country.
And, according to climate experts, it could get worse.
Myles Allen of Oxford University and Peter Stott of the Met Office recently said -‘increasing levels of climate change would have substantial impacts on rainfall. Both went on to stress that - ‘unusually high rainfall could happen in the absence of global warming, as part of the natural variation of the weather, but that human influence on the climate was making such extremes more frequent .’
So even if severe flooding is due, in some part, to a sudden atmospheric change, the long term view seems to be that the future is going to be wet – very wet.
Forewarned is forearmed
But, hopefully all is not doom and gloom for our waterlogged little island. With more and more accurate weather forecasting and money now being earmarked for bigger and better flood defences we may yet be able to weather the coming storm. And there’s a lot we can do as homeowners to protect our property and the contents in it.
The Environment Agency lists two ways that homes and businesses can protect properties: "flood resistance" – stopping water getting in; and "flood resilient" – minimising damage from water that does get in.
Tips on Flood Resistance:
- Be ready with a stock of sandbags. Local builders' merchants can provide bags and sand, or contact your local authority
- Automatic flood-proof doors and windows, or purpose-built flood boards that can be fitted when flooding is expected. Raise door thresholds to help keep shallow water out if possible
- Check your pointing, and apply water-proofing sealant to exterior walls
- Seal floors or replace wooden floorboards with concrete with a damp-proof membrane. Be aware that water can enter where the floor and walls join
- You can get automatic flood-proof air bricks or specially designed covers that are easy to fit, when flooding is expected
- Fit non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes. This will prevent wastewater from flowing back into the property through sewerage pipes for ground floor toilets and sinks – you really don’t want this happening!
- Talk to your neighbours about building a single barrier around several houses to help spread the cost and the benefits
- Landscape garden areas and driveways to help divert water away from your property
Tips on Flood Resilience
- Raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes and wiring to at least 1.5m (5ft) above floor level
- In kitchens and bathrooms, use water-resistant materials, such as stainless steel, plastic or solid wood rather than chipboard, and use silicone sealant around frames
- Use tiled flooring with rugs, rather than fitted carpets
- Fix TVs and other electrical entertainment devices to the wall at least 1.5m off the floor
- Put valuable or irreplaceable items on high-mounted shelves
We all hope that the worst never happens but if the weather is getting wetter, there’s a lot of really good advice available out there to keep you and your home as safe as possible. Our home insurance guides also tell you exactly what to do if the bad weather gets the better of your home.