The first step anyone can take to protect their home is to actively work to prevent water from entering the home in the first place. That way, there won’t be a moisture opportunity allowing for growth in the first place.
Steps to prevent flooding may seem like a pain, but it’s absolutely worth the extra effort—even if you think that flooding could never happen to you. For those in a flood zone, it’s incredibly important to knock off as many of the steps listed below as possible.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re in a flood zone, check out this map on FEMA’s website.
For renters, you can use this as a guide to determine how prepared your property management team is to avoid your home becoming a toxic space. If they’ve taken no action to avoid water-damaging events and the health impact of mold after a flood, it may not be the property for you.
Steps to prevent water damage from a flood include:
Seal any cracks in the foundation of the home. This will help avoid any water making its way into basements or crawl spaces.
Keep gutters in ideal conditions. This includes making sure that they’re clean and not full of debris, installed properly, and that downspouts point away from the home. Opting for downspout extensions is a great way to add another layer of protection.
Ensure that landscape grading slopes down and away from the home in all directions. This helps divert water away from the home so that it doesn’t pool near the foundation.
Schedule a professional to come in and assess the water lines regularly. Busted pipes can lead to water collecting in the basements and crawl spaces of homes. Keeping them in tip-top shape will help to avoid this scenario.
Seal basements and use a spray-on encapsulant on crawl spaces. These are the lowest levels of the homes, so they need a bit more effort to help prevent flooding. Sealing them can help prevent outside moisture from coming in and mold after a flood. That being said, there are a few key points to consider with this. Poly-encapsulation systems are not recommended as they can trap mold, mildew, and bacteria. For concrete or masonry-based product basement or crawlspace wall systems, a good quality spray on moisture inhibitor is best. For wooden structural and semi-structural members, a good quality, zero VOC, and permeable mold inhibiting coating is highly recommended for protection against microbial surface adhesion.
Consider flood vents in the crawlspace. In some states, flood vents are mandatory by code and for proper flood coverage by insurance companies, depending on the area and proximity to a flood zone. The NFIP Regulations and Building Codes require that any residential building constructed in Flood Zone Type A have the lowest floor, including basements, elevated to or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Enclosed areas (enclosures) are permitted under elevated buildings provided that they meet certain use restrictions and construction requirements such as the installation of flood vents to allow for the automatic entry and exit of flood waters. This wet floodproofing technique is required for residential buildings. Flood vents may be of a solid (non-vented) variety to allow more aggressive humidity control countermeasures (such as a suspended dehumidification system).
Install a backwater valve or floor drain plugs. This device will help prevent backed-up sewage and water from entering the home.
Elevate low areas or improve the surrounding space by adding layers of topsoil. This helps to redirect water more efficiently so that it doesn’t pool around the foundation.
Planting a rain garden. This will help capture high levels of rain and slowly release it into the soil so that it doesn’t pool near the foundation and cause flooding.¹
Adding flood shields to the home’s openings. This will add a layer of protection against water coming into the doors and windows of the home.
Ensuring that trees and plants are far enough away from the home so that roots will not crack the foundation. 15–20 feet is ideal, but take a look at the growth characteristics of each specific plant.
Raising the thresholds of any exterior doors. This will give them a bit more protection against any rising water levels outside of the home.
Improving sealing around doors and windows and ensuring that they’re properly installed. This will prevent moisture from creeping inside and help maintain the ideal humidity range of 35-50% to avoid mold growth.
Investing in water sensors for the home. This will help alert you to a problem when it happens so that it can be tackled ASAP.
Using mold-resistant materials in the home. Opting for things like mold-resistant paint and caulk is a great way to prevent mold after a flood occurs in your home.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great foundation to help safeguard your home.
To learn more about, “Does Your Insurance Cover Flooding and Mold,” click here.
To learn more about, “How Do You Avoid Mold Before an Upcoming Flooding Event,” click here.To learn more about, “How Do You Prevent Mold After a Flood Occured in the Home,” click here.
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