There’s a wealth of simple steps most people can take to safeguard against the risk of flooding. Just as importantly, some precautions will allow your home to recover more quickly.
Let’s start in the kitchen. You might want to consider choosing kitchen units with legs. If you’re not sure on the idea remember you can always cover these with ordinary kickboards.
The same goes for some of your appliances, like a fridge which might be placed on a plinth. If you have a tiled floor, a waterproof grout and adhesive is a good idea.
It’s also a good idea to keep some baking soda and vinegar in a corner under your sink. Both are excellent cleaning agents and both absorb lurking smells.
What other practical steps can I take inside?
In rooms where you or your family spend a lot of shared time together – a living or dining room maybe – consider rugs that can be rolled up quickly rather than wall-to-wall carpet. Don’t forget that underlay lies beneath most carpet; both need to dry out fully if the worst happens.
How is your TV or computer equipment sited? Wall-mounting a TV screen is a good precautionary measure as well as installing raised plug and power points. In fact, raised shelves generally – think books, photos and paperwork – are an excellent idea.
Simon Hird from Legal & General Insurance told Moneysupermarket.com it’s worth ensuring all valuables – laptops, tablets, jewellery and copies of important documents including your insurance policy – are stored away, “preferably in a waterproof container kept on an upper floor”.
“It’s also likely that flood damage could wipe your computer’s hard drive, so remember to back it up on a regular basis, to avoid the loss of any personal documents or family photos.”
What of outside precautions?
Pay attention to drains and gutters. It sounds obvious but they can quickly clog. While drains may be straightforward to access with a trusted repair person, it’s a different matter if drains are communal, or you live in a block of flats. Think: who will you contact quickly in an emergency?
Should the worst happen raw sewage, in some circumstances, may return through your drains. To counter the risk consider installing a sewer or septic line valve. It means waste water flows in just one direction only.
It’s not normally an expensive move but there are multiple types of valve on the market with varying levels of effectiveness – so take expert plumbing advice before going ahead.
Technology is also improving matters says Jessie Dhaliwal from underwriters Azur. “Homeowners can now install technology that detects leaks and sends notifications to their phone, allowing them to take action before any substantial damage is done.”
In the case of a major leak, these systems can shut off the mains water supply, “giving homeowners true peace of mind. Not only that, but installing this kind of technology can also reduce consumers’ home insurance premiums, so it’s a win-win,” she says.
Premium defence – protect your costs
In 2017 Flood Re was introduced. This was a joint Government and insurance industry initiative that focused on how the insurance industry treated flood claims. If your insurer is signed up to Flood Re (check) then it’s likely your premium will be capped for affordability.
Although flood resilience is generally designed into many homes in higher risk areas, you can find out more about the flood history of a particular building – useful if you’re considering buying a property. Email the Environment Agency with the postcode details of the property to find out more.
“The report is free,” says the Environment Agency, “unless it takes more than 18 hours to put together. If it takes longer, the Environment Agency will contact you. They may decide not to do the report. If they do it, they charge £25 per hour, including for the first 18 hours.”
One last thing
Don’t capsize or hole a claim by commissioning work without the say-so of your insurance company. Most insurance companies are happy to trust your judgement with appointing a local repair expert, such as a plumber.
But that’s a conversation to have with your provider before work starts. If the damage is severe then a loss adjuster may need to make a visit.