Fight Back The Floods
As New Englanders, we should always be ready to protect our basements from flooding — particularly when caused by spring rains or severe storms.
This blog has covered the risks storms and floods pose to our businesses and homes, and to seasonal homes in particular. A flooding disaster can cost thousands of dollars in damage to property, and inflict huge stress on homeowners.
Our basements can be inundated at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected ways, as one North Woodstock, New Hampshire, couple learned last April. According to a CBSN Boston January article, the couple’s basement was flooded by 16 inches of water — which they alleged was part of the runoff from a commercial ice castle attraction.
The couple spent $30,000 on a system to drain the estimated 35,000 gallons of water from the basement and keep it dry.
Seepage vs. Flooding
Let’s review the typical causes of basement flooding. For starters, we have to draw a distinction between floods and water seepage (as a Boston Herald article explains). Seepage “is a fact of life for anybody with a basement,” the article notes. Seepage tends to occur after heavy rain. If a yard lacks adequate drainage or the ground around the house is soaked, water will tend to trickle in.
However, a flood (for insurance purposes at least) is directly the result of water that rises from a storm or heavy rains. Flooding tends to happen when the soil and gravel under a house is saturated with water. When the water table reaches the basement floor, the pressure will tend to force water into the foundation’s cracks, as the article notes.
New England Floods
If you think you are at risk of flooding (possibly because you are over a high water table), you can prepare in advance. To stave off both seepage and floods, below we offer some tips, provided to us from the “This Old House” TV series and the articles referenced above. They include:
- Seal any cracks in your basement
- Ensure your gutters aren’t overflowing/draining less than five feet from the house
- Check the slope/condition of your yard, driveway, patio, etc. and ensure nothing is positioned to direct water towards the house and cause puddling/flooding
- Dig a trench around the basement to redirect the water away
- Procure an electric-powered sump pump (a battery powered backup is a good idea, too)
- Have pallets available to move your goods and keep them above the water line
For greater protection, consider installing a high-tech flood alarm that works 24/7 and can detect even small inundations. The system can report into a central monitoring station and enable a response within seconds, and so save thousands of dollars in property damage.
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