Reduce Basement Flood Risks

May 26, 2011 - Rain showers might be dandy for your garden but not for your basement.

Wet basement problems may be solved simply by repairing an obvious gutter or downspout leak, but other water problems may have causes that are difficult to identify or expensive to fix.

Three Steps: Evaluate, Inspect, Install a Solution

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offers three steps to help you reduce the risk of repeated basement flooding. If you cannot determine the source of the problem yourself, contact a professional.

Step 1 – Evaluate the risk by considering these questions:

  • Does the basement flood every year at approximately the same time
  • Does the basement flood during random intervals?
  • Where is the basement flooding?
    • Is it at the top of the basement wall?
    • At the bottom of the wall?
    • Through a floor drain?

Step 2 – Inspect the location where water is entering and consider these solutions:

  • Reshape the landscaping around the foundation of the building or home. If water is entering near the top of the wall in one location, an improperly sloped landscape angled toward the building could be the cause.
  • Extend and re-direct the downspouts away from the foundation wall.
  • Caulk any cracks on the exterior and interior of the wall around where the water is entering.
  • Consider hiring a licensed contractor to install a waterproofing membrane. If the entire wall is damp or water is entering through multiple wall surfaces, this may be a sign of a faulty or missing exterior water proofing membrane.
  • For an unfinished basement, consider applying an internal sealant that can be painted on interior surface of basement walls. These products typically require constant maintenance or they will stop working.

Step 3 – Try other location-based solutions:

If the water appears to be entering the home or building near the foundation or through a floor drain, consider installing a French drain or a sump pump.

The French drain could be installed around the perimeter of the building, diverting the water away from the foundation. A sump pump should be installed in the basement floor with a battery backup system. Before you begin, consider hiring a licensed contractor for help.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

As with any type of insurance, it's important to know what your policy does and doesn't cover. All basic homeowners insurance policies exclude flood and certain types of water-related damages. Only flood insurance will cover losses in the event of a flood.

Flood insurance can be purchased from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, and from some private insurers. Erie Insurance works with American Bankers Insurance to offer flood coverage. There is a 30-day waiting period for the policy to go into effect, so it’s important to start the process before severe weather strikes.

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