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Northern Cook & Lake Counties in Illinois

How to protect your home from spring flooding

How to protect your home from spring flooding

The old saying goes, "April showers bring May flowers." And sometimes, those April showers are deluges, raining so much and so fast that the ground and drain pipes can't channel it all away. This is when basements begin to flood and water pools in places it shouldn't, seeping slowly into your foundation, dry wall and flooring—sometimes without being noticed.

Whether you have 2 inches of water in your basement or a stream of water running along a baseboard, you'll want a professional to inspect the damage. Water is tricky and finds many paths to flow through, including ones you can't see. While you may think that unwanted water just flowed along the baseboard, it could have found a path into the drywall.

The problem with this? Moisture can lead to mold. And mold spores can grow in as little as 24-48 hours. Our intention isn't to alarm you, but to give you the facts. It's so important to properly assess water damage that we offer free inspections for all commercial or residential properties.
 

But before we get to that point, let's look at ways you can prevent flooding:

 

1) CHECK YOUR SUMP PUMP(S)  

The next time it rains, go check your sump pump and make sure it's working. If you don't want to wait for the rain, here's how to manually test it: Remove the lid from the sump pump. Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and then slowly pour it into the crock for the pump. Your sump pump should kick on and begin to pump the water. If it does, that's great. Make a point to check it periodically. If it does not turn on, call a plumber before those spring rains begin. 

If you have a backup sump pump, make sure it's working as well. It's there in case your primary pump fails and to kick on if the primary pump can't keep up with the flow of water.  

Bonus Tip: If there's ever flooding in your home, the room where the sump pump is will flood first. Store everything in here off the floor or in large plastic bins.


2) CLEAN OUT YOUR WINDOW WELLS   

If you have below-grade windows, clean the wells of debris, leaves and twigs that accumulated over the winter. Any debris that's there can allow water to pool, which will seep into your home and quietly cause damage. Some homeowners use window well grates or covers. These are a smart addition, but you also need to keep them free of debris.

 

3) CHANNEL RAIN GUTTER DOWNSPOUTS AWAY FROM YOUR HOME 

Take another lap around the house and look for any downspouts that fell off or were moved over the winter. Make sure they're directing water away from the foundation, not toward it.

Bonus Tip: Have your gutters professionally cleaned regularly. Gutters blocked with leaves and sticks overflow, dumping rain water directly onto the side of the house and the foundation.  
 

4) KEEP BASEMENT DRAINS CLEAR

If you have any drains outside the basement, such as in an exterior stairwell, keep the drain clear of leaves and debris. If it's covered, rain water will pool there and seep into the basement under the door.

Make sure any interior basement drains are clear as well—e.g., don't cover that laundry room drain with a rug. If water does get in, you want it to be able to drain back out. 


5) LOOK FOR POOLING WATER AROUND THE FOUNDATION 

During the next heavy rain, don your rain gear and take a loop around the outside of your house. Do you see water flowing or pooling anywhere near the foundation? If so, what's causing it? A sidewalk that's angled the wrong way? A section of yard that's sloping toward the house? You may need to call in professional landscapers or contractors to address the issue, but the key is to keep water from entering the house.

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