Tips for Flood Proofing your Home

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Here in the UK we’ve seen an increasing number of homes destroyed and even entire villages left sodden and in disarray by flooding in recent years - to the extent it has become a problem of our times. Whether this is due to global warming causing unusual weather patterns, the dredging of rivers or coastal erosion – or maybe even a combination of all three, with some other local factors thrown in – it’s difficult to pinpoint in many cases.

What is certain though is that householders in such flood-devastated villages as Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, the town of Carlisle and whole regions such as Berkshire and Somerset have all been left dreading this time of year and the possibility of a recurrence (flooding in the north of the country last year cost around £1.3bn to repair). Also, who wants to live in alternative accommodation for months on end until your home finally dries out and then you have to go back and attempt to recreate that same cosy atmosphere?

So what can you do to arm yourself against the literal flood gates opening this winter? Here are some tips:

  • Invest in items proven to help against flooding in your home, and make sure they are to hand at the first sign of trouble. This includes airbrick covers and barriers, sandbags and door guards. Use them to block up any possible holes where water could enter eg where cables and pipes enter the home, as well as holes in bricks.
  • Consider fitting window frames and internal doors which are proven to be water resistant. Alternatively lightweight doors with rising hinges can simply be lifted off and stored on higher ground.
  • Fit plastic or oak skirting boards (the latter being more flood resistant than other woods) in all downstairs rooms. Move sockets, meters and even your boiler higher up the walls.
  • Think about getting anti back flow valves fitted; especially since their purpose is to prevent sewage re-entering the home via the toilet bowl. You can buy these valves for the washing machine too.
  • It may be costly at the outset - but in the long-run well worth it – to raise kitchen units by adding legs. Then again, you could always replace them entirely with steel or plastic unit carcasses (and remove the ‘normal’ doors prior to a flood). Oak too would be good here.
  • Timber floors could be replaced with concrete and fitted with a tiled surface while fridges and cookers, like the units, could also be raised and kickboards fitted.
  • If a flood is imminent then weight down man holes outside your property. Fit plugs into sinks then cover with something heavy so that water doesn’t seep in that way.

If you’re living in an area the Environment Agency refers to as a flooding risk, then it’s a good idea to sign up to their Flood Warning List. Their 24 hour telephone floodline being 0345 988 1188. Even if you’re not in a designated flood risk area, for peace of mind it can still be useful to invest in a Flood Alarm. This means you’ll be alerted ASAP in the event of a flash flood warning so can start preparing immediately.

You may have read this and consider that some of the above is just too much hassle and expense in preparation for an event that may never happen – especially if you’re not on a flood area list or near a river known for breaking its banks. But do consider that, for years now, statistics have repeatedly shown that you’re far more likely to be flooded than you are to be burgled or your house involved in a blaze. Is it really worth taking the risk?