Are you prepared for a flooded basement?

Last week, during a spate of strong downpours, some houses across the street from our local Marzetti Salad Dressings factory found their basements flooding with ranch dressing. Putting aside the obvious advice (soak it up with croutons, for example), I took a look at my own basement, asking the question what would happen if my basement were flooded?

The good news; most of what we store in our unfinished basement is of modest value and on shelves. The bad news; we just dropped four grand on a new furnace. Add the hot water heater, washer and dryer, each of which would be trashed in a flood, and the cost in damaged goods would hit $5,000, even more if it gets high enough to reach our breaker box. Add to this another $1,000 of miscellaneous goods and the cost of cleanup (pump rental, power washers, heaters to dry the damp walls, cleaning supplies, and whatever measures we could take to avoid a repeat) and the total could easily hit $10,000.

We don't carry flood insurance, since our house is above the 1,000 year flood zone. Therefore, the cost is all out of pocket. How about you? What would it cost you if a water pipe burst, a sewer backed up or a natural disaster poured water into your basement?

Steps you can take to minimize your risk include:

  • If you have your washer/dryer in the basement, be sure to use wire-wrapped water hoses and check them frequently for wear. Broken hoses are often a source of flooding. Turn off the feed lines when away overnight.
  • Store valuables (including precious photos and slides, wedding dresses, etc.) vulnerable to water damage to another room upstairs.
  • Find a different location for your deep freezer. The contents of a well-stocked freezer can be worth more than the freezer, and will certainly be spoiled if flooded.
  • Check the grading around your foundation to make sure setting has created low spots running toward your outside walls.

If you do experience a flood, FEMA has some good advice for dealing with the aftermath.

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