How to prepare your property for flooding


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The prediction of a third La Niña event bringing above-average rainfall for northern and eastern parts of Australia is a big concern 
for homeowners and rising water levels are already causing widespread devastation across the country.

The ground is already very wet and creeks and dams are full, so even if you don't live in a flood-prone area we need to prepare our homes as best as we possibly can as surface run-off may occur quite quickly.

Knowing the areas of your home that were impacted by storms and floods previously will help you get ready and potentially lessen the impact in the coming season.

prepare your house for floods clean out gutters

Perhaps you have moved house since the last storm season? Have you done your research on how your area was impacted by previous storms?

Your local council can generally provide flood maps for your location.

Storm-proofing your home is always money well spent. Designs that are resilient to our harsh seasons have come a long way, so adding weatherproof materials does not mean sacrificing quality interiors. Let's look at how you can prepare your home for the storm season.

1. Gutters and downpipes

Ensure that the gutters and downpipes are clear of blockages. This can make a significant difference. Clogged gutters and downpipes create an overflow under the eaves and into the roof cavity, resulting in costly damage.

Likewise, drainage systems around your home should be clear of all debris so that stormwater can flow freely. Inspect the area around your home to see if there are any loose items that can cause blockages.

If you feel that your gutters and downpipes are too small and have not performed well in previous storms, perhaps an upgrade may be in order.

Obtaining quotes from qualified roofing plumbers will guide you to the best result. To have your gutters cleared by a professional costs around $95 to $210.

2. Upgrade landscaping

A clever storm-proof plan is to use mother nature to your advantage.

While it is difficult to control the flow of water, certain plants and outdoor surfaces can absorb it. Planting shrubs and using landscaping products like gravel and/or bricks will improve your odds against a storm.

Creating channels in your landscaping will enable you to redirect water away from your home.  The drainage system surrounding your property plays a vital role in determining the path where stormwater travels.

3. Alternatives to carpet

If your home has been impacted by water ingress in recent times, chances are you will be facing it again. Consider switching your flooring to a product that is better equipped to handle water.

Materials that are not absorbent may be worth considering. Removing carpet and replacing it with tiles and treated concrete floors may be a good investment.

4. Seal your home

Cracks in the foundation may allow water ingress.  Ensuring your home is professionally sealed is essential. One small crack in the foundation can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Contact a qualified builder to analyse your foundation and check for signs of water damage from previous storms. They can then provide you with a cost estimate to seal your home so that exterior water doesn't make its way inside.

Windows and external doors are also subject to our harsh Australian conditions. They can warp, shrink and expand, preventing operability.

Maintaining these areas to ensure they function perfectly should be on your list before the storm season. It is important to note that aluminium frames are sturdier than timber.

A thorough check of the integrity of your roof is also an important job. A roofing professional can fix any damaged or missing tiles.

how to protect house from flooding

5. Electricals

Consult your electrician and discuss your concerns from last season. Having your power points fitted higher up the wall to help prevent damage should stormwater breach your property may be worthwhile. Can your electrical items be easily relocated?

Make a plan for your washing machine, dishwasher, TVs and all electrical appliances to be placed in a higher location (if possible). Perhaps find some bricks to lift these items off the floor should relocation not be an option.

6. Plumbing inspection

Taking a proactive approach to previous storm-related problems can assist in safeguarding your home. Engaging a plumber to discuss your concerns is money well spent.

A professional can visit your home and inspect sewer lines and ensure your plumbing is working as effectively as possible.

By analysing your property and determining if there are any weaknesses, they can improve your flood protection. There simply is no substitute for professional guidance here.

7. Work together

Should stormwater affect your property, there is a strong chance that your neighbours are also affected. How has stormwater filtered through your neighbourhood in previous seasons?

By working and planning with your neighbours, you will ensure your projects are more sustainable as a collective effort.

8. Sandbags ... just in case

Stockpiling sandbags can aid significantly in diverting water away from your home in an emergency. Stormwater can quickly turn into floodwater if the ground is still saturated from previous storms.

Sandbags can be collected from your local SES centre or purchased from your local landscaping supplier. Take the time to source them now and you will avoid the rush when storm season is right upon us.

9. Power supply

It's useful to have an alternative supply in case you lose power or if authorities have to cut your supply.

As we have learnt from historic events, it can take many days to restore power when whole communities are affected. Investing in a generator gives you the ability to continue running your home, keeping your fridge/freezer going.

A supply of fuel is also essential. Generators can be purchased from around $600.

10. Prepare a plan

Knowing how and where to turn off mains power, water, gas and solar is important. Creating a map of your property that clearly marks the location of your electrical switchboard, gas connection, water supply and solar inverter will enable quick action if an emergency arises.

Should you be unfortunate enough to have your home inundated with floodwater, be prepared for stripping out damaged materials and facilitating the drying out process as soon as possible.

Only licensed electricians should access your switchboard or electrical equipment if it has been affected by floods. Remember, if in doubt, get professional advice. Do not put your life in danger.

The more you do to prepare now, the less likely you will end up needing assistance in an emergency. Addressing a handful of simple projects around your home can make a vast difference and will ensure you are well prepared ahead of storm season.

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Tracie Ellis is the founder and CEO of Renovators Directory the platform that brings together business owners in the renovation sector and consumers requiring their services. She is also the managing director of TAE Projects. Tracie has had a long career in construction and is well respected for her industry knowledge.