Protect your home against flooding

Dog facing large wavesFind out how to keep your home insurance costs to a minimum and protect your home from flooding.

Adverse weather conditions look set to become a permanent trend for the UK. Scorching hot summers, freezing winters, and sizeable levels of rainfall seem to be dominant features of our weather patterns right now.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, it's likely you'll see your home insurance premium or excess jump considerably (if they haven't already). And in some cases, you may even struggle to get any cover at all, as we explained in These homes are about to become worthless.

However, according to insurance provider, homeprotect, there are several things you can do to protect your home and help increase your chances of being accepted for home insurance cover as well as lower your premiums.

Here are some preventative measures you can take to help keep the water out and reduce the amount of damage caused if your home is prone to flooding.

Doors and floors
To keep the water out, buy purpose-built flood boards that can be fitted when flooding is likely. These usually consist of two slots either side of a door, and a board fitted in between so that the opening is sealed.

For your floors, simply replacing carpets with tiled or vinyl flooring can help to lower premiums because carpets often need replacing after a flood.

Protect your walls
It's a good idea to raise damp-proof brick courses. You should also dry-line walls, but use horizontal plasterboard or lime-based plaster instead of gypsum to do this. You can find out more on how to do this here.

Always fit water-resistant skirting boards or varnish them to stop the water getting in.

Drains and pipes
Since most flooding involves 'dirty' water being forced back up through your toilet pan and into your home, fitting non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes can make a significant difference in preventing this method of flooding. These devices are cheap and easy to fit.

Air bricks
If you have air bricks, plastic covers are easy to place over them and could provide an extra foot of clearance in the event of a flood by sealing in under the floorboards. Sometimes they can make the difference between being flooded or not. You can pick up these covers at most DIY stores.

If you have a basement or cellar, you could consider a method known as tanking – where the floors are lined with waterproof seal. This can prevent water rising through the ground, although it doesn't come cheap.

It's also worth fitting a pump in your basement to extract flood water.

To reduce the amount of damage floodwater might cause, install synthetic or waxed windows (and doors) or varnish them.

If your home is frequently at risk, raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring so that they're at least 1.5 metres above floor level. This will prevent a short circuit and will prevent your home from needing a complete rewiring if any electricals get damaged in a flood.

Kitchen and bathroom
Where possible, try to use water-resistant materials such as stainless steel, plastic or solid wood, rather than chipboard. It's also a good idea to raise fridges and appliances on plinths to stop the water getting to them.

Shelving and home entertainment
Make sure all valuable or irreplaceable items are placed on high-mounted shelves. All entertainment equipment, such as your television, should be fixed to the wall about 1.5 metres above floor level.

Important documents
Keep all insurance documents as well as other important items, such as your passport, in a safe place on the highest floor of your home.

You may also want to check out this guide on what to do before, during and after a flood from the Environment Agency.

John Fitzsimons looks at three easy ways to cut the cost of your home insurance premiums.

The costs
Unfortunately, the cost of making your home flood-proof can be pretty high. However, it will help to reduce the amount of damage done to your home and therefore you're less likely to have to deal with costly repairs.

The cost of purchasing and installing products to keep the water out of your home will depend on how big your house is and the type of flood you're trying to protect against.

According to the Association of British Insurers, for periods of prolonged flooding, protecting your home is likely to cost you a considerable amount – between £20,000 and £40,000.

However, protecting your home against shallow flash floods will cost a lot less - between £2,000 and £6,000.

Even if you can only take a few preventative measures, this could help to slash your home insurance premiums considerably, as well as your excess – and I'm talking thousands of pounds here. In fact, it could reduce your excess from £15,000 to just £1,000!*

What's more, you may find insurers are more willing to give you a quote. And of course, as I've already said, it could prevent you from having to fork out thousands to rebuild and refurnish your home.

Buying products
You can find a comprehensive list of the products you can buy to protect your home in 'The Blue Pages' directory on the National Flood Forum's website. You should always make sure you check whether a flood product has been properly tested - it should display the BSI Kitemark or equivalent accreditation for the national quality standard PAS 1188.

Thanks to homeprotect and the Environment Agency for these tips.

*Figures from homeprotect but will depend on how many preventative measures you have taken.

More stories
Read Full Story