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Protecting your home against floods

Batten down the hatches! It’s that time of year again, when British weather does its worst and threatens rains, storms and – worst of all – floods.

Whether you are a homeowner or renting, now is a good time to check whether you are doing all that might be done to protect your home against floods.

Here are a few tips and suggestions:


  • both the structure and fabric of the building and its contents need the protection against loss or damage of adequate flood insurance;
  • you might want to see whether your home is an area susceptible to flooding and the Environment Agency’s scalable map gives a detailed picture of the risk of flooding from either the sea or rivers;
  • if your home has been flooded in the past, or is an area especially vulnerable to flooding, you might find it difficult to find insurance – or need to pay a lot for it;

Practical measures

  • with your insurance safely arranged, there are also a number of practical steps you might take to further protect your home against possible flooding – some of which are simple and cost very little, whilst others might represent a longer term investment;
  • once any flood warnings are given, stock up on sand bags – they are still a well-tried and tested first line of defence;
  • you are going to want to move valuable items to a higher floor, of course, but any which are too heavy to move might be protected inside carefully sealed plastic bags;
  • a number of electrical household appliances may be too heavy or awkward to move upstairs, but you might think about making raised plinths from blocks to keep them above a rising water line;
  • it is possible to buy fairly cheap air-brick covers to help prevent the ingress of flood water – although they should be removed again, of course, once any flooding has subsided;
  • if you are prepared to make an especially expensive investment in flood-proofing your home, you might consider structural waterproofing or the tanking of any basement areas;
  • a similarly expensive project is the building of a permanent flood barrier – although pooling your resources with those of your neighbours may help to reduce the costs;
  • for a somewhat cheaper alternative may be simply to apply a waterproof sealant to all your exterior walls, incorporating water-resistant air bricks;
  • if you are vulnerable to what is likely to be only relatively low-level flooding, you might want to consider moving all your electrical sockets to a height of about 1.5 metres above ground level;
  • MDF and chipboard units are notorious for soaking up any water that breaks into your home, so you might want to think about replacing these with plastic or solid wood.

Clearly the better prepared and more defensive your precautions against floods, the better are your chances of securing flood insurance at a competitive price.

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