Flooding: is your home at risk – and what to do

Is your home at risk of flooding? Read our advice on protection and repairs from water damage and what to do if your home is currently flooded

Do you live in an area at high risk of flooding?  Steve Hodgson, chief executive officer of Property Care Association, a trade body for the structural repair sector, has some practical advice to help homeowners living in a high risk area – and gives advice on what to do if you've been flooded. Find more home restoration features in our dedicated pages.

If water is rising near the entrance to your home, act quickly to:

  • Move all personal effects, valuables, perishables, documents and sentimental items such as photographs upstairs or to a safe place
  • Create your own flood gates for your

Sealing your home to make it to make it as watertight as possible is the best defence against rising flood water, explains Graham Stone, managing director of Stonehouse Property Care, a building preservation consultancy specialising in damp proofing and flood damage. He advises the following practical suggestions on creating a barrier against flood water:

  • Use a sealant around the entrance where any external pipes enter the home
  • Apply covers to external air vents
  • Check external walls for holes and seal any gaps
  • Use external doors that seal tightly

What to do if your home has flooded

Unfortunately, if your home has already flooded, there is little you can do until the water levels subsides, says Steve Hodgson from the Property Care Association. However, contacting your insurance company should take priority. Don’t be afraid to take responsibility to ensure your claim is processed quickly and you can plan repairs as soon as possible.

‘Drying out your home with dehumidifiers, air movers or heaters will be the first step in the process to recovery. Prior to this, it is important to remove any wet soft furnishings such as sofas and carpets as their high level of water retention will hinder the drying process,’ he explains.

In order to dry your home properly you need to understand your building structure, construction materials and fabrics (such as walls, plastic, flooring etc). This will help you to treat each part of your home in the most effective way and put measures in place to prevent damage in future.

‘For help detailing your property’s structure, your insurance company will be able to provide contact with a flood remediation expert who can assess your building and advise the most suitable course of action,’ Steve explains. ‘Should you be sourcing an independent specialist yourself, it is crucial to locate any trade expert through quality controlled websites, to avoid falling victim to rogue traders.’

Visit the Property Care Association or Trust Mark list trusted flood remediation specialists.

For more information and useful contacts, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has set up a Flood Hub offering advice on how to stay safe during the storms, how to protect your home from damage and how to approach any repair work needed.

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of RoSPA, says: ‘While much of the focus is on damage to property, the risk to the safety and the health of those affected must be the nation’s top priority. Over the last week, we have been responding to individual requests for flood-related information and advice, and our new Flood Hub covers many of the issues that people have been asking us about. It is packed full of sensible safety advice. It is always a difficult decision to leave your home, but by staying, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. The police and emergency services, with their expertise and knowledge, are there to advise you.’

Visit the Flood Hub for further information.

How to repair flood damage

Once it is safe to re-enter your property, it is time to take considered steps to repairing the damage.

RoSPA offers these tips: 

  • Do not turn electricity and gas supplies back on until you have had professional advice that it is safe to do so
  • Wear protective equipment while cleaning up due to the risks associated with contaminated water
  • Seek qualified, professional advice on repairing damage and restoration work, including using a registered electrician and Gas Safe registered engineer.

Beware of rogue traders

Stuart Carter, Head of PR and Marketing at TrustMark, says: ‘As the extreme weather continues to batter Britain, many flooded homes have been left damaged and in need of urgent extensive repair and refurbishment work. Rogue traders take advantage of vulnerable homeowners during these times of crisis, often tricking people into paying high prices for unnecessary or shoddy work. We therefore urge all homeowners to be extra vigilant and only use reputable tradesmen you know are registered with TrustMark to restore any damage to your property – all our TrustMark tradesmen have on-site inspections and work to government-endorsed standards.’

‘Armed with a strong understanding of your property materials and expert advice you can begin arranging contractors to take the correct course of action to repair the damage to your home whilst simultaneously installing conservation measures,’ Stuart explains. ‘Preparation to install flood defence protection now will provide a huge return for future. Remember to use trusted specialists in repairing flood damaged buildings.’

Photography: istock

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