With regard to escape of water, simply being sure all taps and water pumps are turned off fully after use and de-clogging pipes regularly are basic ways to help prevent water escaping in your house.
As for flooding, cases of extreme weather brings misery for what seems like an increasing number of homeowners each year, with rivers overflowing and whole towns finding themselves underwater.
To see if your own home is at risk from flooding, or if you’re thinking of buying a house you suspect might be, you can look at the Environment Agency’s flood maps for England and Wales online.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar information on the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development websites.
Flood defences for external causes
If your house is in an area at risk of flooding, you’ll be looking to do what you can regarding prevention. If water levels rise, they will do so quickly, so you’ll need to be prepared and increase the flood defences of your home to limit the damage as much as possible.
Sandbags are a popular form of defence during floods, used to block doorways and drains, secure manhole covers, or build a protective barrier.
Also try a Hydro Sack, which works in a similar way, but absorbs up to 20 litres of water as it protects, and due to its flexibility can squeeze easily into small openings or tight spaces.
You can also buy special flood boards that secure to the base of doors to prevent water from getting through. Just fit the fixing frame in advance and then the panel can be attached quickly when a flood warning is given.
It’s a good idea to consider all other possible ways to give your home extra weather protection too. Check regularly that all roof tiles are secure and that your guttering is properly fitted and isn’t blocked in any way.
You might like to consider a few home improvements too, like replacing wooden floors with concrete versions, raising the level of damp-proof brick courses, and raising plug sockets if they are too low.
Mounting items like a TV higher up the wall, or keeping other valuables on shelves or even upstairs, is another good idea. In the event of flooding, be sure to turn off your electrics.
As well as stopping the water, you want to help your home dry out again as quickly as possible, should flooding occur. Consider a pump in the basement to remove water. In case of an emergency, do keep a first-aid box, bottled water and a torch somewhere safe, along with any other essential items, ready for you and your family.
Flood insurance is included under your regular buildings insurance, and should cover damage to walls, ceilings, floors or windows.
Personal items or valuables will be covered under your contents insurance but it’s always a good idea to read the small print to double check what will and won’t be covered in the event of a flood. Some more valuable items may require separate insurance policies or even a ‘high risk’ policy.
If you are flooded, contact the relevant insurers as soon as possible. Take photos of any damage as well. The insurer will advise you on how to proceed, and may involve specialists or tradesmen to dry out the building and carry out repair work.
If required, your insurance policy may cover the costs of drying out and repairing your home, replacing damaged possessions, the fees for professional services (builders, architects, solicitors etc.), and even alternative accommodation if you are unable to live at home, depending on the policy.
Make sure you speak with your insurer before commencing any repair work, as it is likely they will want to use their approved tradespeople.
Your buildings insurance will take into account how much your property is at risk of being flooded, which, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), will be in one of three categories: low, moderate or significant. Taking steps towards flood prevention might work towards lowering your home’s category.
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