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Flood prevention efforts that can save homeowners money and headaches

Flooded basement in Pinconning, Mich. (File photo)

The following article is sponsored by RBE Premier Basement Foundation Systems.

Each season brings its own severe weather risk. Spring and fall often bring the risk of high winds, power outages and heavy rain. Along with the rain, the threat of flooding is always a major concern.

A flooded basement or crawlspace can cause great and long-term damage to your home structurally as well as destroying the contents and appliances.

Your furnace, water heater and other utilities may be ruined as well as other items of value including furnishings, partitions and wall and floor coverings.

“Structural damage may include cracked and buckled walls, damaged foundation walls and shifting footings,” advises Randy Esterline, owner of RBE Premier Basement Foundation Systems. “Under severe conditions, basement walls may collapse due to the extreme weight of saturated soil.”

Long-term moisture in a crawl space can cause floor joists and beams to rot and sag causing doors to jam and cracking in the interior walls, as well as creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow.

According to RBE Premier Basement Foundation Systems, the homeowners’ first line of defense to protect your home and family may be as simple as:

  1. Cleaning your eavestroughs annually. Downspout extensions should also be in place to project the rain water way from the home.
  2. Look for cracks in the foundation at the grade line. A crack above ground probably extends below ground. All cracks should be filled with hydraulic cement or a good waterproof sealer.
  3. Look at the elevation of your home. Does the soil around your home rise enough to force the water away from the foundation? Are there low spots next to the foundation where water can stand? Adding soil to raise the grade even a few inches can make a huge difference.
  4. Be certain all sidewalks, porches and other concrete slabs project the water away from the foundation.
  5. If your home has a sump pump, be certain to inspect it for obstructions that may prevent its operation, such as any foreign objects floating in the water or a buildup of dirt and debris in the bottom of the sump pit.
  6. If your existing sump pump runs excessively during regular rain seasons, it may not be able to hold up during flooding conditions. You may want to add and additional sump pit and pump as a safety measure.
  7. In the case that there is a power outage during severe weather conditions, your sump pump will not function. You should consider a battery-operated backup pump to be certain your basement or crawl space does not flood.
  8. If your home does not have a sump pump, you can install a sump pit and pump as a safety measure, even if you are connected to a storm drain or gravity drain system. A battery backup is advised.
  9. In flooding conditions, even storm drains and gravity drains may back up and flood your home. Prior to such events, you may consider installing a back-water valve in your drain system to prevent sewer water from flooding your home.

A good inspection of your basement or crawl space can tell you a lot. “If your basement is leaking now, if there are cracks in the walls now, then you know your existing drains are failing,” says Esterline. “Which means the soil around your home is probably saturated, adding additional pressure to the walls.”

When heavy rains come, even greater stress is put on existing systems which, at some point, may completely fail.

A proper drain system functions not only during wet seasons but year-round dewatering the soil many feet away from your basement and lowering the water table around your basement, so during heavy rain seasons, the soil can absorb much more moisture lessening hydrostatic pressure under floors and against walls.

In most cases, your homeowner’s insurance will not pay for basement flood damage unless you have flood insurance or a special provision in your policy. These damages can add up in the thousands.

For more information on this topic, contact RBE Premier Basement Foundation Systems at (810) 338-9569.

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