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Protect Your Home from Flood Damage

Release date: 
July 30, 2003
Release Number: 

Charleston, WV - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information on how to protect your home's major systems and appliances when building or repairing a house because you may suddenly find it flooded, no matter where you live. A torrential downpour can cover a basement room with water from backed up drains. If you live in an area prone to flooding, the chances for both major and minor damage are greatly increased.

"Residents planning to floodproof their homes should first call their County Planning Commission to obtain base flood-elevation levels for the location," said Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "When homes are located within certain floodplains, specific building rules apply." Restrictions are related to the 100-year floodplain, which is an area that has a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage. But this definition may change based on variations in population or an increase in building activity.

Property owners are advised to elevate electrical and heating systems 12 inches above the height the water would reach during a 100-year flood event or the highest known flood levels for the area. Elevation will lower the possibility of damage to these important systems.

As additional safety measures, FEMA recommends the following actions:

Electrical and Heating Systems

  • Elevate all outlets, switches, light sockets and junction boxes, as well as the main breaker or fuse box and electric motors. Junctions should be located in approved junction boxes.
  • Run wires overhead. If they must be in areas where they could get wet, use a wire rated for underground use. Wires should not end in a possible flood zone.
  • Elevate electric baseboard heater systems. For the wall area below the baseboard units, use waterproof wall construction materials and techniques.
  • Elevate or relocate the electric panel with the 100-year rule in mind. The maximum panel height is regulated by code.
  • Elevate or relocate the heating plant. Consider installing utilities on the second floor or in the attic. If you are replacing your furnace, ask the supplier for information about a downdraft system.
  • You can also consider suspending the heating system, making sure it is 12 inches above the highest flood levels.
  • Elevate your air conditioner or heat pump at least 12 inches above the flood safety margin on a masonry, concrete or pressure-treated lumber base.
  • Anchor your fuel tank. Unanchored fuel tanks can tip over or float, and escaping fuel may result in spills or fires. Use non-corrosive metal structural supports and fasteners. Check with the fuel tank manufacturer for recommendations since the type of anchorage, including slab dimensions, varies depending on tank size. Keep the tank topped off to reduce its tendency to float.


  • Elevate a basement-level washer and dryer on a mansonry or pressure treated lumber base to at least the 12-inch flood safety margin.
  • Relocate the washer and dryer to a higher floor in the home.
  • Elevate or relocate the water heater to at least the 12-inch flood safety margin.

When making repairs or building, you should always chec...

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:52