Whether you live next to a large body of water or in the middle of the desert, flooding in your home is always a possibility and one that needs to be taken seriously. While people that live in low‐lying areas or next to water are more susceptible to flooding, there are many ways homes can flood other than high water occurring naturally. So that you can be better aware of all the causes involved and do the preventative work necessary, we've outlined the top culprits of home flooding below. If you take the steps necessary to protect your home on the front end, you're saving yourself potentially tens of thousands of dollars in damage that can result from flooding.
There are numerous large appliances in your home that use ample amounts of water including your washing machine, dishwasher, hot water heater, and refrigerator. If their connections to your plumbing system stop working, the shut‐off switch can fail or supply lines can burst. When this happens, there is no place for the water to go but the inside of your home.
The good news is that there are modern devices like FloodStop systems that detect leaks and turn off affected appliances. FloodStop systems can be installed at the point of use for each appliance and are fairly inexpensive. Though it might involve a small to moderate investment on your end, we highly recommend putting these systems in.
Broken pipes are one the scariest causes of home flooding because they have the capability of flooding your entire home in only a matter of minutes. The causes of broken pipes are endless. Pipes become frozen and crack, poor water quality causes corrosion, fittings can begin to leak, or damage can be caused doing projects in or around the house.
Knowing where your pipes are and regularly checking them for damage is essential for preventing anything catastrophic from happening. Locating the pipes in your wall and yard and taking all the necessary precautions when doing home projects is paramount to prevent flooding.
If you live in a region of the country that experiences cold temperatures during the winter, keeping your pipes from freezing should be a major priority. The first step to preventing frozen pipes is to leave a slow trickle of water running out of all your faucets. For pipes that are exposed on the inside of your house, keeping a heat source of at least 55 degrees near the pipes is a good idea and leaving cabinets with pipes in them open allows warm air to circulate and prevent freezing. For spigots on the outside of your home, covering them with an insulated freeze cap works wonders.
Clogged drains can cause major flooding problems. Blockage in your main line poses the biggest threat to backing up waste water in toilets and drains throughout your home. Even though floods of this nature are usually localized, they can still cause substantial harm.
The best way to prevent clogs is to be conscious of the items you put down your drains. In bathrooms, hair is the leading cause of blockage. If you shave or brush your hair over your bathroom sink, make sure you have a stainless mesh drain screen that you can clean regularly.
The same thing can be said with your kitchen sink. While having a drain guard helps, you need to be especially careful of what you put down your sink. Food scraps like egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable peels, and pasta can cause clogs and mild flooding. Grease is one of the biggest culprits clogging kitchen drains and should be avoided as much as possible. Draining it into a separate pot through a food strainer and then disposing of it in the appropriate waste receptacle is best.
In the unfortunate event that one of your drains does become clogged, using anti‐clog liquids like Drano is not recommended (read on to learn why). Though they might alleviate the problem temporarily, the chemicals in these solutions corrode pipes causing larger problems down the road. Instead, try using a plumbing snake to unclog the drain. If this doesn't work, call a plumber.
If you live in an area where high water, tornadoes, tsunamis, or earthquakes are common, flooding is a problem you may have to face at some point. While there isn't much you can do to fight these weather phenomena, making sure that you're prepared ahead of time goes a long way.
Having a plan to get to safety is the most important step but there are also some things you can utilize to protect your home and minimize damage. If you're expecting a storm or flood near your home, having sandbags at the ready can help build a barrier keeping rising water at bay. Also make sure you have a water pump handy that will allow you to quickly get water out of your home if it does begin to flood.
You might not think so, but tree roots can cause flooding. Over time, tree roots continue to expand underground as they seek out water. Tree roots often will grow so much that they puncture pipes and cause flooding. Unless you're willing and able to dig underground to check for damage along your pipes (check with your local utility companies first!), there isn't much you can do. It's best to have an idea of where your underground pipes are located, note any roots that might start popping up in your yard and their vicinity to pipes, and have a trusted, licensed plumber's phone number ready.
Water Heater Leaks
Most people don't pay enough attention to their water heaters. If they are old or not properly maintained, they can begin to leak. If you notice dampness on the floor surrounding your water heater or mildew on the walls, it's a good sign you have a leak. The first step is determining the source of the leak. Once you've done this, turn off the gas or electricity and water to the water heater, and call a plumber. Even if the leak seems minimal, it can quickly become worse and cause structural damage.
Home flooding of any kind is something you don't want to deal with. It can prove costly and in extreme cases you can lose your home. While there is only so much you can do in the event of a natural flood, there are numerous steps you can take to prevent flooding from faulty home appliances, broken or frozen pipes and clogs. These types of home maintenance are relatively inexpensive and worth the investment. If you happen to find a leak in your home, it's best to call an expert right away as not doing so will prove costly in both terms of money and peace of mind.