Keeping Your Basement Dry

Spring Showers Bring Wet Basements
Posted on March 21, 2012 by Scott Spencer

If last year’s Hurricane Irene taught us anything, it was that with extreme rain events come wet basements.
The vast majority of insured losses caused by Hurricane Irene were caused by wet basements. Many of the losses could have been avoided, or at least mitigated, if homeowners had prepared their homes for the inevitability of a Northeast hurricane.
With spring arriving this week, now is a good time to look at ways that homeowners can help prevent losses from water damage.
For example, if your home requires a sump pump or French drain to help keep the basement dry, water infiltration may be a problem. It could just be a high water table, but in times of heavy sustained rainfall, water from the ground can rise and the sump pit could overflow. During Irene, many homeowners reported that their sump pumps simply could not keep up with the amount of water coming in.
In addition, power outages are common during large storms. Without a backup power supply, sump pumps will do no good.
The land surrounding many homes often slopes toward the house, which can create a rush of water into the house during a heavy rain. This is particularly problematic for homes with below-grade windows or doors.
Also, if the rain gutters and downspouts are clogged, the rain will be redirected toward the home’s foundation instead of away from the house.
Even if you’ve done everything to keep the water out, it sometimes makes its way into the basement. If this happens, you can mitigate your losses by making sure valuables kept in the basement are stored off the ground.
Finally, it’s important to have flood insurance, particularly if your home is in a high-risk flood zone, as most homeowners insurance policies will not cover damages caused by flooding.

Scott Spencer is senior vice president, Chubb & Son, and worldwide appraisal manager, Chubb Personal Insurance.

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