Protect Your Home from Flood Damage


Recent floods have increased our awareness of the need to protect our homes and property.Floods will strike again, but their effect need not be disastrous.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." - The proverb's age-old meaning is clear.It's less expensive to protect your home and property before they are damaged than to repair them afterwards.Why spend time, energy, and money replacing your damaged items only to have them damaged in a future flood?

If you are repairing your home or replacing its contents, take that extra step now to protect your home and family for the future.Recovering from your losses includes reducing your risk to future flooding.

Consider these three important questions as you start along the path toward making your home safer.

What Is Your Flood Risk?

Do you know of any history of flooding near your home?Find out if your home is in a flood hazard area.Ask owners before you buy or rent.If you need flood zone information, contact your community officials to view the flood maps kept on file.Flood maps are generally kept in the Building Permit Department or with the floodplain manager.

What Flood Protection Measures Can You Take?

When homes are destroyed or severely damaged by a flood, serious consideration may be given to relocating out of the flood plain, elevating the repaired buildings, or investing in a flood control project.

In many cases where flood damage is not extreme, you may consider techniques that are far less expensive.

Flood Damage Reduction Techniques

  • Relocate and elevate electrical boxes - Relocate the electrical box to an upper floor or elevate the electrical box to a recommended 12-inch safety margin above base flood elevation.
  • Anchor fuel tanks - Anchor the fuel tank to the wall or floor to prevent floating and overturning.Metal structural support and fasteners must be non-corrosive.Wooden structural supports must be pressure treated.
  • Install septic backflow valve - Prevent sewer back-up from entering your home.Install an interior or exterior septic backflow valve.
  • Relocate and elevate water heater and heating systems - Relocate the water heater and heating systems to an upper floor where they will be 12 inches above the base flood elevation or elevate them on a sufficient masonry base at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation.
  • Relocate and elevate washer and dryer - Relocate the washer and dryer at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation or elevate them at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation on a base of masonry or pressure-treated lumber.
  • Install floating floor drain plug - Install a floating floor drain plug at the lowest point of the lowest finished floor.This will allow the water to drain.When the floor drain pipe backs up, the float rises and plugs the drain.

What About Flood Insurance?

Once you have identified your risk and taken the appropriate flood protection measures, you should protect your financial investment by purchasing flood insurance for your home and its contents.

Contact your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance.If your agent is unable to write a flood insurance policy or refer you to someone who can, call the National Flood Insurance Program at (800) 427-4661 for assistance.

Getting Started

It is important to talk with your local building officials before you start any work.They can provide useful information on safe building methods.

Consult with a licensed contractor, architect, or structural engineer, if necessary, to evaluate your construction project.Have them prepare recommendations and construction documents to obtain a building permit for reconstruction or retrofitting.If you plan to do the project on your own, contact your local building officials to obtain information on building codes and documents required for a permit.

Selecting a Contractor

Avoid adding more frustration to your recent flooding experience by selecting a qualified contractor.Look for the following factors:
  • Experience in the type of work you need
  • Local building knowledge
  • Good references, license, bond, and proper insurance
  • A time schedule that meets your needs

Use the services of the Contractors State License Board before you hire a contractor or sign a contract.They should be able to answer questions such as:
  • Is your contractor licensed?
  • Is your contractor in good standing?
  • Is your contractor in the proper trade to fit your project?

Once you have found a few qualified contractors, obtain a minimum of three bids.Compare equal bids for the best price and the best qualifications.

Additional Resources

Protect your home, property and family now -Before the next flood.An ounce of prevention is worth it.Isn't it?

For free answers to technical questions or for information about available programs and flood damage reduction techniques, contact your Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (Floodplain Management Section) at (804) 371-6095 or write to:
203 Governor St.
Suite 206
Richmond, VA 23219-2094

For flood insurance information, call your local insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at (800) 427-4661.

The information for this page was taken from a brochure created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Virginia Department of Emergency Services.