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Protect your home against flooding

lovemoney staff
by Lovemoney Staff lovemoney staff on 26 November 2012  |  Comments 11 comments

Find out how to keep your home insurance costs to a minimum and protect your home from flooding.

Protect your home against flooding

Adverse weather conditions look set to become a permanent trend for the UK. Scorching hot summers, freezing winters, and sizeable levels of rainfall seem to be dominant features of our weather patterns right now.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, it’s likely you’ll see your home insurance premium or excess jump considerably (if they haven’t already). And in some cases, you may even struggle to get any cover at all, as we explained in These homes are about to become worthless.

However, according to insurance provider, homeprotect, there are several things you can do to protect your home and help increase your chances of being accepted for home insurance cover as well as lower your premiums.

Here are some preventative measures you can take to help keep the water out and reduce the amount of damage caused if your home is prone to flooding. 

Doors and floors

To keep the water out, buy purpose-built flood boards that can be fitted when flooding is likely. These usually consist of two slots either side of a door, and a board fitted in between so that the opening is sealed.

For your floors, simply replacing carpets with tiled or vinyl flooring can help to lower premiums because carpets often need replacing after a flood.

Protect your walls

It’s a good idea to raise damp-proof brick courses. You should also dry-line walls, but use horizontal plasterboard or lime-based plaster instead of gypsum to do this. You can find out more on how to do this here.

Always fit water-resistant skirting boards or varnish them to stop the water getting in.

Drains and pipes

Since most flooding involves ‘dirty’ water being forced back up through your toilet pan and into your home, fitting non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes can make a significant difference in preventing this method of flooding. These devices are cheap and easy to fit.

Air bricks

If you have air bricks, plastic covers are easy to place over them and could provide an extra foot of clearance in the event of a flood by sealing in under the floorboards. Sometimes they can make the difference between being flooded or not. You can pick up these covers at most DIY stores.

Basements

If you have a basement or cellar, you could consider a method known as tanking – where the floors are lined with waterproof seal. This can prevent water rising through the ground, although it doesn’t come cheap.

It’s also worth fitting a pump in your basement to extract flood water.

Windows

To reduce the amount of damage floodwater might cause, install synthetic or waxed windows (and doors) or varnish them.

Electricals

If your home is frequently at risk, raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring so that they’re at least 1.5 metres above floor level. This will prevent a short circuit and will prevent your home from needing a complete rewiring if any electricals get damaged in a flood.

Kitchen and bathroom

Where possible, try to use water-resistant materials such as stainless steel, plastic or solid wood, rather than chipboard. It’s also a good idea to raise fridges and appliances on plinths to stop the water getting to them.

Shelving and home entertainment

Make sure all valuable or irreplaceable items are placed on high-mounted shelves. All entertainment equipment, such as your television, should be fixed to the wall about 1.5 metres above floor level.

Important documents

Keep all insurance documents as well as other important items, such as your passport, in a safe place on the highest floor of your home.

You may also want to check out this guide on what to do before, during and after a flood from the Environment Agency.

John Fitzsimons looks at three easy ways to cut the cost of your home insurance premiums.

The costs

Unfortunately, the cost of making your home flood-proof can be pretty high. However, it will help to reduce the amount of damage done to your home and therefore you’re less likely to have to deal with costly repairs.

The cost of purchasing and installing products to keep the water out of your home will depend on how big your house is and the type of flood you’re trying to protect against.

According to the Association of British Insurers, for periods of prolonged flooding, protecting your home is likely to cost you a considerable amount – between £20,000 and £40,000.

However, protecting your home against shallow flash floods will cost a lot less - between £2,000 and £6,000.

Even if you can only take a few preventative measures, this could help to slash your home insurance premiums considerably, as well as your excess – and I’m talking thousands of pounds here. In fact, it could reduce your excess from £15,000 to just £1,000!*

What’s more, you may find insurers are more willing to give you a quote. And of course, as I've already said, it could prevent you from having to fork out thousands to rebuild and refurnish your home.

Buying products

You can find a comprehensive list of the products you can buy to protect your home in ‘The Blue Pages’ directory on the National Flood Forum’s website. You should always make sure you check whether a flood product has been properly tested - it should display the BSI Kitemark or equivalent accreditation for the national quality standard PAS 1188.

Finally, for further tips on slashing your home insurance, read 8 savvy tips to cut your home insurance.

Thanks to homeprotect and the Environment Agency for these tips.

*Figures from homeprotect but will depend on how many preventative measures you have taken.

This article has been updated.

More on insurance:

What's better than PPI?

How to insure your gadgets

The best home insurance companies for customer service

More: The eight biggest home insurance mistakes | Make sure your home insurance covers this!

Compare home insurance with lovemoney.com

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Comments (11)

  • straightseer
    Love rating 3
    straightseer said

    An inexpensive tip based on my own experience of a catastrophic flood 10 years ago: keep a supply of common housebricks! Act quickly to yank dressers, sofas, tables, cabinets etc. onto upended bricks.

    Hope you never need this advice.

    Report on 04 January 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mark Vickery
    Love rating 5
    Mark Vickery said

    @straightseer very good advice.

    The other good one is to have a ton bag of sharp sand, available from most builders merchants. Useful for the snow and ice as well as for bagging up as a quick flood defense. 

    Report on 05 January 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Stargazer
    Love rating 11
    Stargazer said

    If there is a flood risk in your area but it's not really high enough to justify spending lots of money on flood prevention measures you can still make your own flood boards cheaply. Check that all exterior door frames are well sealed and cut some boards from a suitable material such as marine plywood to fit across the door openings. Keep a good supply of silicone bathroom sealant handy and seal the boards in place when a flood is expected.

    For areas where flooding is frequent, of course, I'd suggest more comprehensive flood prevention measures, but for areas with a very low risk of flooding and where the Environment Agency can give several hours' warning the cheap and cheerful measures may be enough.

    Report on 31 January 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Offa
    Love rating 40
    Offa said

    I think adverse weather has been with the UK for centuries, it hasn't just been invented for the media to go on about or the government to tax us for.

    The planet is still coming out of the last ice age so you can expect different weather. You wait until we are going back to the next ice age, that will enable the government to really increase taxes and blame us for causing the ice.

    Bye the way, who was responsible for the last ice age? And, more importantly ,for melting the ice? They flooded millions of acres of good land across the world and caused the English Channek to form making a good money -earner for ferries ever since.

    Best advice is to never buy a house anywhere near a river, stream, ditch, brook and look at the height above sea level,. Make sure is it well higher than the nearest river even if that is a few miles away as flood plains fill up rapidly

    Report on 27 April 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • CuNNaXXa
    Love rating 410
    CuNNaXXa said

    Scorching hot summers, freezing winters, and sizeable levels of rainfall seem to be dominant features of our weather patterns right now.

    Actually, according to the people who own the water companies, rainfall has been below the required level, hence the current hosepipe ban that is affecting a sizeable chunk of our community. Of course, the rest of us think we have had too much rain, but our opinions don't count.

    Oh, and when was the last scorching hot Summer? I remember that we had a hot Easter last year, but Summer was somewhat a flop. Maybe 2009 was the last one I remember being really hot, but that might just be me.

    Actually, I do find it ironic that everyone around the globe goes on about the British Weather being so changeable, yet it appears it is not as changeable as our water companies would like.

    By the way, shouldn't snow be classed as rainfall, since it is basically frozen rain water anyway, which means our country has had two winters where the entire country was snow covered, bringing many areas to a complete halt. When snow melts, doesn't it convert back into water, or do the water experts say that it evaporates before they get a chance to harvest it.

    Anyone else watch the Jonathan Mateland program last night about how dry we have been?

    Surely if we are in a drought, flooding is hardly likely. And if flooding does happen, shouldn't that be enough to challenge the water authorities claims that we have no water?

    Report on 27 April 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    Large amounts of snow tends to melt and run off into drains and is then whisked out to sea much like the standing water we see after a deluge. What we need to fill reservoirs is steady drizzle that soaks the ground and gets into the water table.

    Of course the tabloids love a story along the lines of "Drought? But we're flooded. The water companies are staffed by fools!"

    Flooding and drought are not as simply connected as a simplistic view might imply.

    Report on 03 May 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • tris1110
    Love rating 0
    tris1110 said

    Blocking air bricks as described above should not be done permanently as, with moisture below the floor, without ventilation, there is a high risk of Dry Rot developing. That is also very costly to eradicate once it gets a grip.

    Report on 26 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Peter S Wood
    Love rating 0
    Peter S Wood said

    I suppose the naysayer in me would say: drain the wetlands, remove the rain absorbing trees and vegetation, then build concrete jungles on those sites. Next plum all new drainage into the old and existing drain systems, which may partially have collapsed. Now you can rightfully blame it on the weather.

    Seems strange the generations before us seemed to get things right but then they never had our technology!

    Report on 26 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    'Generations before us seemed to get things right' - Really? that would be why thousands drowned in the UK, Holland all over Europe in floods in the last 40 years then?

    We can spend billions on defences or react to freak weather and make considered investment. I don't think government agencies have done too badly in the past few years and most of the deaths have been through plain stupidity. The UK doesn't have half the weather, geological or environmental issues they have in the USA and overall things are improving despite weirder and weirder anomalies in our weather patterns.

    Report on 26 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • tuttogallo
    Love rating 99
    tuttogallo said

    Putting boards across doorways is of course better than nothing, but inevitably some of the water will leak throughcausing damage.

    A better way is to have a barrier away from the property e.g. a garden wall. Any openings in this are then blocked with removable boards. Any water which leaks through is allowed to drain to a low point outside the property from whence it can be pumped back over the wall.

    A total pain, but better than being flooded.

    Report on 26 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • anothercynic
    Love rating 0
    anothercynic said

    I have yet to come across any insurance company that takes any account of individual flood protection. Further they only take note of the post code so if one of your neighbours has made a claim for water damage or part of the post code has had flood damage because it is a dip then the whole post code is recorded as being liable to flood damage and evidence that your property is not at risk is ignored.

    Report on 27 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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