What to do if your house is flooded

The heartbreak of having your home flooded could pale into insignificance next to the cost and inconvenience of returning it to its pre-flood state.

The typical cost of repairing and refurbishing a flooded property is around £15,000-20,000 – and it could be a lot more. But you can reduce damage by being prepared and acting quickly when the water levels start rising.

Immediate action plan

If you live in a flood risk area, it is important to stay abreast of Environment Agency flood warnings during wet periods. Its free alert service is a great way to do this – check out environment-agency.gov.uk for more details.

Other tips include having emergency contact numbers for your insurer, local authority and utility companies to hand. Your insurer's 24-hour emergency flood helpline, for example, should be able to advise you on minimising the chances of further damage – even once the flooding has started.

Keep important numbers and documents in a waterproof bag in an upstairs room, if possible.

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Protecting your property

Ways to protect your home from rising water levels include laying down sandbags and taking valuables such as your television and other furniture to upstairs rooms. When it comes to reducing damage outside, meanwhile, tips include using sandbags or floorboards to bolster greenhouse and garage doors.

Finally, if you’re hit by flooding, turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains, and move your car to prevent it becoming stranded, getting carried away or simply being waterlogged. But take extreme care before entering any standing water if there is a risk that it is already carrying an electric charge.

If in doubt, stay out.

If your car is already affected by floodwater, allow it to dry out completely before attempting to start the engine.

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In the aftermath

Revisiting your beloved home after a flood can be devastating. However, it is a good idea to identify and photograph items that have been damaged as soon as possible after a flood, as this will help with your insurance claim.

Check too for signs that a property has suffered structural damage, which is not always obvious at first but requires the attention of a structural engineer or surveyor. Such signs could include changes in the line of the roof ridge, horizontal or vertical cracks in the walls and bulging sections.

To protect yourself financially, meanwhile, don't forget to keep the receipts for any emergency repairs that need carrying out to prevent damage getting worse to pass on to your insurer. Keep in touch with your insurer in case they prefer you to use a recommended tradesman to carry out such work.

It is also worth checking whether your home insurance policy will cover the cost of alternative accommodation should you need to move out of your home while the flood damage is being repaired.

The clean up operation

Your insurer should be able to provide drying equipment and practical assistance to help with the immediate aftermath and clean-up.

When redecorating after a flood, sensible measures include tiling floors rather than putting down carpets and having power sockets moved further up the walls.

As hard surfaces cause water to run-off and build up in valleys and roads rather than allowing water to soak into the soil, sticking with traditional grass rather than patios and decking may also be a better choice for your post-flood garden.

Remember, though, that water levels may rise and fall for a short period after the rain has ended, so no cleaning or repairs should be attempted until you are sure the flooding has ended.

Looking to the future, it may also be sensible to consider insurer-approved flood prevention products that could protect your home and slice 10% or more off the cost of your insurance policy.

You can get more information on the options, as well as other ways you can prepare for flooding, by contacting the Environment Agency. And you can save hundreds of pounds a year on your home insurance by shopping around for cover using MoneySuperMarket.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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