How to Tell If Your Home Can Withstand a Flood

house with trees on a flooded street
  • Beginner

Being a homeowner can feel overwhelming sometimes. Between maintenance, repairs, and improvements, you have a lot to keep track of. One area that's easy to overlook is flood risk.

But not only do some homes have a high risk of water damage from flooding bodies of water, all homes have the potential for a water emergency triggered by a problem as simple as a broken pipe.

Flood insurance isn't typically included in home insurance packages unless you live in a flood zone or you select additional coverage when purchasing a plan, so it's very important to know if your home is in a flood zone so that you can purchase additional protection for your property.

It's also a good idea to check your whole property to make sure it could hold up to a serious water event.

Flood Zones

flooded street with houses just above water

In the US, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a free flood zone map where you can look at your city and state to see if your home is in a flood zone. The map is broken down into several different color-coded zone types.

The blue zone on FEMA Maps represents areas in which a flood is likely to occur once every hundred years. Even if that doesn't seem like a big chance, it's still considered a high-risk flood zone, so if you live in one, you should purchase flood insurance and flood-proof your home. As you may have noticed, we've had several "once in a hundred year" weather events lately.

Orange zones represent a lower flood risk than blue zones, but it's still a good idea to hold flood insurance in these areas. Your premium will likely be lower because you're less likely to experience a flood, but it's still a good idea to flood-proof your home.

Yellow zones on the map are areas in which FEMA doesn't have enough information to determine whether or not a flood is likely to happen. Your best bet in areas like this is to ask around and see how often your neighbors have flooding issues.

Even if you're not close to a body of water, you could live in an area where you receive a significant amount of rainfall that can cause flooding in your home.

Blue and red striped areas on the FEMA map represent areas considered floodplains. Typically homes aren't built in floodplains, but sometimes they are. If you live in a floodplain, you need to take extensive precautions to protect your home and property.

You will likely experience at least some significant flooding living in a floodplain. Some floodplain homes are even built on stilts to help alleviate the damage caused by multiple floods.

Get Flood Proof

worker coating foundation with liquid sealant

Good flood-proofing starts with the foundation. Make sure the foundation of your home is sealed and that doors and windows in lower levels of the home are up to code and thoroughly caulked. A coated foundation is also a good idea because it lets less water in in the event of a large flood.

If you live in an area with high flooding, You may want to consider building your home on stilts or installing a flood pump to help protect your home from water damage. You see homes like this in beach towns all the time, and it's not just for the aesthetic. Building your home of high makes a big difference when the floodwater is rushing.

Another small but important tip for floodproofing your home and minimizing water damage is to keep electrical outlets up high. When possible, keep anything electrical that could be damaged by water above the average flood line in your area.

If you're building a home in a flood zone, consider grading your landscape so that water flows away from your home. If you live in a flood zone, you don't want to live at the bottom of a big hill or in a bowl. You want the land sloped away from your home so that when water comes in, it flows away from the base of your house and protects your home and property.

This is a good idea in general because holmes flood every year from broken sprinklers and pipes in the yard, and when the water flows away from your home, your house is protected from even small smaller water disasters like these.

As a general rule, even if you don't live in a flood zone, it's a great idea to make sure that all of your pipes are in good condition and that you regularly check on appliances that use lots of water, like a dishwasher or a washing unit for your clothing. Staying on top of maintenance and caring for your home is the best way to make sure that you don't end up with an internal water disaster.