Spring showers can bring flooding to the unprepared - HMS National, Inc.

Spring showers can bring flooding to the unprepared

May 5, 2014

A rainy spring following a long, snowy winter is the perfect recipe for flooding. Peter Foley, vice president of claims for the American Insurance Association, told The Associated Press that losses from winter weather would be worse than usual this year, due to how cold it was in so many parts of the country this year.

Stop floods before they start

If you notice unexplained water in your basement or see it seeping through the walls, it could mean that you have a burst pipe. Ken Collier, editor-in-chief of The Family Handyman, told the AP that turning off the water to the house is the only definite way to relieve the pressure. To actually repair the pipes, it's best to call a plumber unless you've had the unfortunate experience of doing it yourself before.

Assuming your pipes are in good shape, there are ways to prevent flooding caused by rain. The website of home improvement guru Bob Vila lists clogged gutters as one common cause of basement flooding. Cleaning your gutters is a must, and the site recommends extending your downspouts to divert rain water at least three feet from the house.

A damaged foundation is the shortest path to a flooded basement. Some small cracks in either the foundation or interior basement walls can be fixed with epoxy or caulk, but more severe damage may need to be dealt with by a professional. If you know what you're doing, it's possible to seal the foundation with concrete around the exterior, but doing so incorrectly may cause more harm than good.

Keep in mind that prevention is key to avoiding losses. Many insurance companies don't offer coverage for flood damage, and even if they do, some things can't be replaced.

Minimize damage with a shop vac

Should you find yourself with a new wading pool in the basement, there may still be time to salvage things. If you act within 48 hours, you should be able to at least stop mold from forming, if not prevent water damage, according to the EPA. Popular Mechanics recommends using a shop vac to remove excess water, assuming it's a manageable amount. Be sure to keep the vacuum, all cords and yourself (wearing rubber boots, of course) above water level by using boards or a step ladder to stand on and hold equipment. It's absolutely necessary to  shut off power to basement circuits before doing any work.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.