Preparing Your Home for Rainy Weather and Minimizing Flood Damage

Every home has a story, and they are as vast and varied as the world is wide. But they all start with inspiration, and inspiration starts with our surroundings. That’s what home is. Family. Friends. A sense of place. An amazing view. It is all part of what makes a space a home because your home is where you truly live. As homeowners ourselves we understand that your best life begins with a home that inspires you.

(This page includes affiliate links – our full disclosure statement is available {here}

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck

Many homeowners face the threat of water damage, especially during winter. Months of consistent rain, hail, and wind take a toll on your property. But, if you’re considering preventative maintenance, it can be difficult to know where to start, or what to do in case of an emergency. As with most elements of homeownership, it pays to plan ahead. So, here’s how to prepare for wet weather.

Preparing for rain

Fall is here and the rain will follow, the decision to forgo that last BBQ of the season in favor of cleaning out your home’s gutters can be an agonizing one. But, a few simple home maintenance tasks could save you considerable time and money in the long run. A recent study revealed that most homeowners can significantly improve their property’s flood protection by investing as little as $250. Even better, most homeowners should be able to complete all of the items on the list below in a day or so.

Check your roof

Before the weather turns, be sure to check the condition of your roof. Worn or warped shingles can crack, allowing rainwater to enter your home. If you’re uncomfortable with heights, contact a professional roofer and pay for an inspection. Not only will they highlight any issues with your roof that you may need to address before winter, but they should also be able to give you an idea of your roof’s remaining lifespan and provide an estimate of the replacement cost.

It’s also worth noting that most home insurance policies cover damage to your roof that occurs suddenly (for instance, during a storm). However, damage due to wear and tear is generally excluded. So, be sure to check the condition of your roof at least once a year.

Clean your gutters and downspouts

The lowest portion of a property is often at the most risk of rain damage. This is because the earth surrounding your home is not as compact as it was before your property existed, so groundwater naturally filters down towards your foundation, potentially corrupting its structural integrity.

To counter this, most homes feature gutters and downspouts, which are designed to capture rainwater that falls on your roof and carry it away from the home; either towards a municipal drain or far enough from the premises that it won’t affect your foundation.

When fall arrives and the trees begin shedding leaves, gutters often become clogged, which reduces their efficacy. So, be sure to check your gutters and downspouts for damage and blockages at least twice a year.

Check your drains

It’s not just your gutters that require maintenance. If your home features external drains (such as those often found on balconies or below-grade doors), make sure they’re clear of debris. While there’s usually no risk of damage to your foundation, if these drains become clogged, you risk water backing up and entering the home.

While you’re at it, check your nearest municipal storm drain for debris, too. Clearing this will help prevent water from backing up into your property.

Seal your windows

Once you’ve ensured that rain can flow freely from your property, consider any other means that water can enter your home. Points of ingress/egress are the next culprit, so be sure to check the seal on your doors and windows.

If the seal is cracked or brittle, or if you’ve noticed any leaks, it may need replacing. Remember, if water is gradually seeping into your home through cracks around your window wells or anywhere else in your home, your insurance will not cover the resulting damage.

A good method to prolong the lifespan of your seals is to install covers on your window wells to protect them from the worst of the elements.

Prepare for wind

When a storm hits, water damage shouldn’t be your only concern. Consider the items you leave outside your home each night; how likely is it that they could cause damage to your property in the event of a severe wind storm? Repeat offenders such as patio umbrellas or outdoor furniture should be stored in a secure location, such as a garage or shed.

And, damage to your own property isn’t the only risk. Be sure to consider damage to your neighbor’s property, as well as personal injury. If your furniture is blown from your property and causes injury to another person, you may be held liable. So, make sure your home insurance policy provides adequate liability insurance limits.

Trim your trees

Similarly, loose branches can easily damage your home in a storm. Old or rotting trees may need to be removed entirely. While this kind of damage is often covered by your home insurance policy, you’ll likely be responsible for the costs associated with removing or replacing any damaged trees. You’ll also have to pay a deductible and may see an increase in your premium as a result of making a claim.

Inspect your furnace

With winter approaching and the increased risk of water damage to your home, the last thing you want is for your heating to stop working. In extreme cases, this can cause the water in your plumbing system to freeze, leading to a burst pipe.

In fact, freezing is such a common cause of burst pipes that many home insurance providers impose requirements on homeowners who are away from their home for extended periods of time during the winter months, such as leaving your heating on, or asking a friend to periodically check on your home. So, if you’re planning a winter getaway, be sure to check your policy wordings before you leave.

And make sure to check your heating system before winter arrives. If your system is over 15 years old, you may also consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient unit.

Preparing for flood damage

Chances are, if you experience a flood, there will be some degree of damage to your property. The best defense against this is a comprehensive home insurance policy that includes adequate flood damage coverage. But, what else can you do to protect your home and personal property?

  • Store important documents off the floor in waterproof containers.
  • Extend your downspouts further away from your house.
  • Make sure your yard is properly graded, so water runs away from your home.
  • Raise your washer and dryer, hot water tank, and furnace off the floor.
  • Install a sump pump in the basement to remove any standing water. Make sure it has a back-up power source in case of power failure, and don’t forget to test the system periodically.
  • Install a backwater valve into your home’s sewage line. In the event that your municipal system is overloaded, this will prevent contaminated water from backing up into your home.
  • Install and maintain a leak detection system that can detect abnormal water usage and shut off the supply at the source.
  • Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds to help prevent seepage.