Owning a beach house is an excellent investment. However, as severe weather storms and flooding has become more frequent, protecting your beach house from flooding is vital. This article shows you how to assess your flood risk and ensure your beach house is appropriately protected.
To protect a beach house from a flood, you should specifically assess the flood risk in your area and your beach house. Then carry out recommended renovations and preparations like sealing cracks in the foundation and installing a flood control system to protect your beach house from rising waters.
Water will flow wherever it wants to flow. Storm surges can breach seawalls and levees and pound them into rubble in hours. While no one can’t stop storm surges, there are several things you can do to minimize flood damage to your beach house. We discuss everything you can do to protect your beach house here.
How To Assess Flood Risk in Your Area
The initial step to protect your beach house from flooding is by assessing the flood history in your area and how well your beach house is built to withstand flooding.
To find out if you are likely to experience flooding, you should evaluate the surface runoff the next time there is significant rain in your area.
Pay special attention to whether the water flows away or toward your beach house. Also, note if any water enters the basement or pools around the doors.
From these observations, you should understand the general risk of flooding and identify areas that might need dry proofing.
Use The FEMA Flood Map Service to Assess Risk in Your Area
FEMA offers flood risk maps on their website at https://www.fema.gov/flood-maps that summarize flood risks within an area and present this information on a map with easy access. These flood maps show flood areas and the high-risk zones.
The website is easy to use; just type in your address to access your area’s flood zones. You could also alternatively use the Search All Products button and select your state and town to view your region’s flood history reports at https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
The FEMA flood maps feature several zones that show the flood risk of an area and its structures, like dams, levees, and bridges.
The FEMA flood zones are as follows:
Blue Zones: The blue zones are the 1% annual flooding zones. The FEMA blue zones can face substantial flooding once every 100 years. Even though 1% might sound like a low number, it is still considered a high-risk zone. Therefore, essential to take sufficient steps to protect your beach house from flooding.
Orange Zones: The 0.2% orange zones are likely to face substantial flooding at least once in 500 years. The orange zones have lower flooding risks than the blue zones, so flood insurance premiums are typically lower. However, your beach house should still be protected from flood risks even though orange zones are on the lower risk scale.
Yellow Zones: The yellow zones are areas of unknown flood risks. If your beach house is in a yellow zone, you should thoroughly research your area’s flood history to verify the risk. Communicate with nearby neighbors to determine if flooding has recently occurred in your area. Contact a flood insurance company and determine if your beach house can withstand any flooding.
Blue with Red Stripes: The blue and red stripe zones are regulatory floodways. They typically include a waterbody and a surrounding floodplain. They are usually uninhabited to allow water to drain from flood zones. If your beach house is near or built in a regulatory floodway, you should take substantial precautions to prevent your beach house from flooding.
How To Protect Your Beach House from Flooding
When you have determined your beach house’s risk of flooding, you should then look at the steps needed to protect your beach house correctly. Protecting your beach house from flooding can range from essential maintenance to home renovations.
The protective steps needed will depend on your beach house’s overall risk and how well the beach house was built.
Flood Protection Renovations
If your beach house were not built to withstand water surges, flood protection would be needed to minimize flooding. To protect your beach house from flooding, you can follow some of the methods below.
Raise your beach house on stilts
While it may be expensive to build stilts afterward, raising your beach house on stilts will significantly reduce the risk of flooding. A small inch of floodwater can cause significant damage; raising your beach house above the flood level will substantially protect your beach house from flooding.
Invest in a sump pump and foundation vents
Sump pumps are often used to pump water out of basements when flooding occurs. Install a sump pump with a battery backup that will continue to operate when there is a power outage.
Install a foundation flood vent to protect your beach house during floods where water pressure can destroy foundations and walls. The foundation flood vent allows floodwater to flow through a garage or crawlspace freely.
Make sure you frequently test the sump pump and battery backup. Install a sump pump with enough power to remove water at a quick pace during heavy flooding.
A battery backup is an excellent idea for the sump pump in case the power cuts so that the sump pump can continue operating until the power is back on. Some sump pumps are sold with a battery backup integrated.
Both methods provide a way out for floodwater and release water pressure away from basement windows and walls.
Apply sealants and coatings
Sealants and coatings can be applied to windows, walls, utility, exhaust openings, doorways, and the foundation to stop floodwater from leaking through cracks into your beach house.
Seal basement windows
Flood-proof the basement windows by sealing them properly. If your beach house windows are old, consider installing new windows. New windows provide better seals and are more energy-efficient.
Raise your electrical switches and outlets
All switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and outlets should be at least one foot above flood level to avoid substantial electrical damage in the case of flooding.
Install check valves on your pipes
Upgrade the drains to prevent backflow
If your beach house’s drains do not have backflow valves, you should consider installing them. To stop flooded sewage from backing up into your beach house, ensure all pipes entering your beach house have valves. Typically gate valves are favored over flap valves because they seal significantly better against flood pressure.
Slope the garden or lawn away from your beach house
When your garden tilts toward your beach house, rainwater will pool around the beach house. Grade your garden to direct surface runoff away from your beach house.
You should pay special attention to areas near the home’s foundation. The garden should slope away from the foundation. You might have to add dirt to improve the grading. Some places might require the installation of drainage where water accumulates to direct the floodwater during storm surges.
Leave enough space between siding and mulch
After flooding, remaining moisture stuck in mulch can deteriorate your beach house’s siding. This can cause leaks next time water surges. Ensure there is enough space between siding and mulch at the base of your beach house. After a rainstorm, inspect the area to ensure it is completely dry.
Direct downspouts away from your beach house
When a gutter runoff is not directed away from your beach house, it might pool water at the corners and eventually cause cracks and leaks in the basement.
Install flood skirts
Attach flood skirts to doors and windows to flood-proof and keep water out of your beach house.
External and interior appliances
Once you have done the above renovations, you can additionally protect your beach house’s exterior and interior devices by raising them higher than the flood level by placing them on concrete blocks.
The appliances that should be raised above flood level are:
- Washing machines.
- Air conditioning units.
- Water heaters.
Preventative Steps to Take When Flooding Occurs
When a storm is approaching or flooding has already begun, follow these steps to reduce water damage and flooding to your beach house:
- Clear out drains and gutters to allow water to flow away from your property. Clean the gutters at least once a year to keep them functioning correctly.
- Keep filled sandbags. Sandbags can stop floodwater from entering through basement windows and doorways. Keeping sandbags handy for emergencies is a great way to stop floodwater. Place them around your beach house to create a barrier.
- Move furniture, rugs, electronics, and valuables to a higher beach house area.
- Shut off the electricity at the circuit breaker when floodwater reaches the electrical system.
- Turn on your sump pump immediately to pump floodwater out.
- Close the water line for the time being.
- Keep your important personal documents and other valuable items in secure packaging on higher floors of the beach house.
- Document and take pictures of the flooding and damages to accompany your claim to the flood insurance company.
Flood Insurance Coverage
If your beach house is in an area that has been classed as a high-risk flood zone, you should consider flood insurance.
Talk to a flood insurance agent to find out how to apply for flood insurance.
You should know that the standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flooding. Additional flood insurance can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Even though your beach house could be located outside a high-risk area, you should know that flood damage is often significant, catastrophic, and highly costly.
Flood insurance policies often have a thirty-day waiting period, so don’t delay purchasing flood insurance for your beach house.
When you choose flood insurance from a private company, it’s good to ask several insurance companies for quotes. That way, you can select the option that fits your budget best.
If you are buying your flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, their premiums can vary based on a few factors like:
- The area’s flood risk zone.
- The number of rooms in the beach house.
- The year the beach house was built.
- The number of floors in the house.
- Where belongings are placed.
- Where the first level is to the base floor.
The typical National Flood Insurance policy can cost around $700 a year. However, flood insurance policy costs can vary based on your beach house’s location and flood risk zone. A high-risk zone could increase your flood insurance premium up to $6,000 a year.
Floods and storm surges can damage your beach house and cost thousands of dollars to repair. When your beach house is in a high-risk flood zone, you should take specific steps to protect your beach house from flooding. When storms hit, the most damage that is caused is usually from storm surges. Leaving a beach house vulnerable to hurricane and flood-related damage will result in hefty repair costs.
Heavier and more frequent storms with high storm surges make beach homes more susceptible to flood damage than ever before. Protecting your beach home from flooding is essential.
Floods are unpredictable; however, there are several things you can do to minimize flood damage to your beach house. Ensure your beach house is adequately protected from flooding by sealing the foundation, basements, doors, and windows.
Keep gutters clean, runoff water away from your property, and keep sandbags handy for emergencies. Install a sump pump with a battery backup system to pump out water fast when flooding occurs.
Invest in flood insurance even if your beach house is in a low-risk zone. Flood damage is not usually included in a homeowner’s insurance policy. Also, federal disaster assistance is not necessarily guaranteed, and even low-risk areas can suffer flooding, so be prepared and flood-proof your beach house to keep it safe. Flood insurance will help you recover after a flood and pay for repairs.
We hope this article was informative and helped you determine what steps to take to protect your beach house from a flood.