With flooding becoming the new normal, here’s how to protect your property with a little planning ahead.
Basic steps everyone can do before flooding strikes to help prevent damage at the cottage:
At the shoreline Protect or restore natural vegetation on your property, especially along waterfronts. Avoid “hardening” shorelines with stone or concrete.
Outside the building Clean your eavestroughs and downspouts annually. Also, ensure that downspouts are connected to extensions that run at least six feet away from the cottage.
On your property Ensure the ground around your cottage slopes down and away. The soil around your foundation should be the highest point on your lot. Make sure your nearest sewer grates, if present, are clear.
Sewage pipes Install back-flow prevention, or back-water valves, on sewage pipes going into your cottage. Get it checked and cleaned twice a year, to ensure it seals properly.
Sump pumps If you have a basement, ensure you have a sump pump well and a functioning sump pump (plus, a backup pump and a generator for backup power). Test your sump pumps regularly—just pour some water into the sump pump well.
At the foundation Seal cracks in foundation walls and basement floors from the inside. Make sure basement windows have wells with lips that sit above ground level with plastic covers on top. Use waterproof windows and caulk around them. If you are in an especially flood-prone region, consider specialized door dams and window shields that provide a watertight seal.
Inside the cottage Relocate HVAC systems and basement electrical panels to higher spots in the cottage, or attach them to the ceiling in the basement, if you have one. Relocate electrical outlets on your lowest level to above three feet off the floor.
Get informed Call your insurance agent and keep asking questions until you are clear about what your policy covers. Local and provincial governments provide flood hazard maps, engineering studies, and lists of recommended contractors and plumbers. If you are in a high-risk area for flooding, there may be more you can do to prepare.
PLUS, How to prepare for imminent flooding
If a flood is expected and you can get there before the waters rise, reduce damage to your possessions and the building by:
Moving things up Take electric appliances out of basements. Place valuables and furnishings higher in the cottage, or remove them.
Turning things off If you have a propane tank, or oil- or gas-fired appliances, turn those off, and make sure they, and any fuel tanks, are secured. Turn off the water too. Leave the power on though, so your sump pump will work.