Best Spring Basement Flooding Defense Is A Good Offense

In your front yard, once mighty snow mountains are melting. In the side yard, ice glaciers are turning to watery mush. In the back yard, hardy early spring rains are naturally constructing a small river.

The thaw is on in full force.

The signs of changing seasons are everywhere. Exiting Stage Left is the lousiest Iowa winter in years, entering the picture is the promise of spring, but also the scariest words of the new season:  Spring flooding.

As nervous Iowa homeowners watch the state’s waterways rise and ponds form mere feet from their homes’ foundation, the question is unfortunately becoming an annual rite of Hawkeye State Springs.

Will my basement flood?

“Spring rains often bring out the worst in flawed grading and foundations, leaving homeowners with a mess,” legendary home maintenance expert Bob Vila writes.

And as FEMA notes, “each cubic foot of compacted snow contains gallons of water.”

Plus, snow is melting faster than any Iowa homeowner can keep up.

“We’re melting snow pretty damn fast,” National Weather Service meteorologist Allan Curtis told the Des Moines Register. In addition to rivers flooding, there’s just going to be a lot of water with no place to go.”

So how can you get off defense and on offense to prevent basement flooding from literally raining on your spring parade? By having your home’s flood defenses prepared to withstand the watery wrath of March and April with our Seven-Step Basement Flooding Prevention Plan.

  1. Have Gutters On Guard: Keep gutters free of debris and position downspouts away from the foundation. The goal, Vila notes, “is to drain storm water at least three feet away, so if necessary, consider running extensions or troughs.”
  2. Foundation Security: Large foundation cracks will not only break your mother’s back, but allow water to seep into your basement. Inspect your exterior foundation and basement’s walls and floors.  Use epoxy to fill any foundation cracks. If you see warning signs of cracking, apply masonry sealer. For serious cracks, call in a pro.
  3. Superior Sump Pumps: Trying to withstand spring rains and melting with a below-grade sump pump is like spotting Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots a 14-point lead. Good luck, but the odds are not in your favor.  Test your sump pump to make sure it’s well and free of debris. Position portable pumps in the lowest part of the basement and ensure they are connected to a power source.
  4. Make Sure Your Sewer Has A Clean Bill of Health: There’s no better time to have your sewer inspected or septic tank cleaned than spring.
  5. Safeguard Your Basement Windows: If you have below-grade basement windows, Vila stresses, install well covers that will fasten securely to your home’s foundation.
  6. Relocate Dangerous Snow: Keep all melting snow piles a safe distance from your foundation, and relocate snow if necessary.
  7. Read The Fine Print Of Your Insurance Policy: Know your property insurance policy inside and out, especially if you have a finished basement. Remember, most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flooding or sewer backups, and new flood insurance policies don’t go into effect until 30 days after purchase.

A Must-Win Playoff Game For Your Basement

The best way to avoid spring basement flooding is to get on offense before the water can reach the red zone. Playing the wait, see and pray game could end up costing you a lost basement and $10,000 plus.

Consider surviving spring flooding a must-win playoff game for your basement.

“In the spring, melting snow and April showers conspire against your yard, unleashing a deluge of water on to just thawed ground,” This Old House Magazine’s Caitlin O’Neil stresses.

Remember, your basement isn’t “finished” without you taking essential spring flood prevention steps. This is a game your basement can’t afford to use.

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