How to Prevent Basement Flooding While on Vacation

Tips for Preventing a Flooded Basement While Vacationing from Your Home/strong>

By Mark J. Donovan

The last thing you want to come home to after a vacation is a flooded basement. Unfortunately this situation happens more often than you think. A flooded basement can occur for a variety of reasons. A backed up sewer line, a failed pressure and temperature valve on the hot water heater, a broken supply pipe, or water seeping through a crack in your foundation wall are all common sources for flooded basements. If any of these situations occur and your basement floods, tremendous water damage can result, particularly if you do not react quickly to eliminate the water.

Besides the water damage, mold and mildew growth can quickly occur. In just a couple of days you could begin to see signs of hazardous mold growth.

You can, however, prevent a flood in your basement by taking some proactive steps before leaving your home.

Shut off the Well Pump

When we, for example, leave our vacation home we always shut off the switch to the well pump. By doing so, we prevent the basement and home from being flooded by cutting off the water source. As a result, in the event of a broken supply line or a toilet flapper that fails to seal properly no serious damage will occur to the home.

Shut off the Hot Water heater

Again, when we leave our vacation home we always shut off the hot water heater. We do this for two reasons. In the event the temperature and pressure relief valve associated with the water heater, or the water heater itself fails, we can prevent a flooded basement. Second, we can prevent wasting energy reheating water over and over again that we are not using. One time, while we were at the home, the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPV) on the hot water heater went. The result was hot water spewing out of the pipe connected to the TPV.

Due to the fact that the well was turned on, water flowed continuously out of this pipe. Fortunately I caught the situation before the basement flooded significantly.

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Ever since that occurrence, I’ve always made sure to shut off both the well pump and hot water heater before leaving the home for any extended period of time.

Keep the Heat On at a Low Level

Particularly if you have hot water heating, it is imperative to keep the heat at no less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the home during the winter months.

This way if you lose power at your home while you’re on a winter vacation, there’s margin for the house to stay above freezing until the power is restored to the home. If you leave the heat off, or at too low of a temperature setting and you lose power, you may end up with frozen and broken water pipes.

In addition, you may want to install a water sensor alarm system in the basement so that in the event basement flooding does occur it can call you immediately to let you know about the alarm condition.

How to prevent basement floods. Watch the Water Heater!

Preventing Flooded Basement from Flood Drains

If your home has a flood drain, there is the risk of water pushing up through the drain and flooding your basement.

To prevent this type of situation from occurring you can install a standpipe. A standpipe is a pipe that is installed into the floor drain. It has a wide diameter and can be either placed into the basement drain or screwed into it. If below grade water attempts to enter the basement via the flood drain, the water will move up into the standpipe but won’t overflow the height of it.

Consequently the water will not spill over the drain and onto the basement floor. The standpipe can be inserted or screwed in only when there is a risk of flooding, e.g. during the spring season or when heavy rains are expected.

As an alternative to the standpipe a plug can also be installed into the flood drain to hold back water from pushing up into the basement. With the plugs, they are meant to release at a certain pressure point to ensure the basement floor slab does not crack from all of the water pressure underneath it. A check valve can also be inserted into the flood drain to prevent water from back flowing from the sewer drain system into your basement.

For more help on Basement Additions, see’s Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling project is done correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.

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