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9 Ways to Stop Basement Flooding

A flooding basement is the stuff of nightmares for homeowners; the water, the cleanup, the smell, the loss of cherished belongings—it’s enough to strike fear into your heart just thinking about it. That’s why flood damage prevention is key.

Unfortunately, without the right flood preparations, the effects of a flood can linger for months and years. Flood damage and related foundation problems can even cause homeowners to sell their property up to 30 percent below market value. 

We’ve compiled a checklist of ways to prevent flood damage with basement waterproofing and other solutions, protecting your home so you gain peace of mind.  

Basement Preparation and Protection: 9 Helpful Tips 

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damages to your home. A focused effort to waterproof your basement will help you be the most prepared for a flood, preventing severe flood damage. These 9 steps can help you manage any upcoming threats.  

1. Add an Interior Drain 

crew installing an interior drainage system in a basement

Effective drainage keeps floodwaters flowing out of your home rather than becoming a stagnant pool in your basement. An interior drainage system in your basement will capture water before it has a chance to pool.

Installed around your basement’s perimeter, the interior drainage channels collect any water leaking into your basement. For effective operation, pair it with a sump pump so the water can be easily expelled.

2. Install a Sump Pump

sump pump installed in a basement with a battery backup

A sump pump is at the core of effective flood preparation. If water enters your home, a sump pump can help you to get it out.  

The best sump pumps have an integrated backup battery. This is an important failsafe to keep your sump pump working even during a power outage. Remember that during a flood, electrical systems and generators can be dangerous, but batteries that are integrated into a sump pump are designed to work in water events.

A free inspection can help you understand how a sump pump system can address your property’s flood risk.

3. Protect Possessions

When facing heavy rains and a high risk of flooding, consider how any flooding could damage your valuables or possessions. Don’t leave important paperwork like your passport stashed away in a ground-level desk drawer. Elevate large furniture up onto concrete blocks, move lighter possessions to an upper story or your house, and secure your valuables.  

If you don’t have much notice, keep your priorities in check. It’s more important for you to get to a safe location rather than to try to protect your belongings.  

4. Elevate Utilities

Floodwaters can damage your utility systems, quickly increasing the cost to get your home back in order. You can protect these utility systems by raising them off the ground on concrete or doing rewiring. 

Elevate electrical panels, central air units, water heaters, and furnaces. Moving these systems above the flood level gives them a better chance at avoiding water damage.

5. Address Gutters and Exterior Drainage

clogged gutters could lead to flood damage

When facing major rains, it’s important to ensure precipitation moves away from your property with proper drainage. Even just three inches of rain on a 1,200-square-foot roof can yield 1,243 gallons of water. Keeping that water away from your home can prevent a problem before it starts.  

Well-functioning gutters and downspouts are an important part of flood protection, capturing rainfall and directing it away from your property. If your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, water could flow right into the foundation of your house, seeping into your basement. 

6. Add an Exterior Curtain Drain to Manage Surface Water  

A gravel-topped curtain drain on your home’s exterior can help you manage surface water and runoff. A curtain drain creates a path of least resistance and quickly directs water away from your foundation.   

By keeping more water flowing away from your house, you’ll be helping prevent interior flood damage. The curtain drain can even become a part of your landscape design.  

7. Install Backflow Valves on Drains

A backflow valve can protect a water-logged sewer or septic system from flowing backward into your home. With these plumbing valves in place, you’ll be able to help keep raw sewage from coming back up into your house.  

The cost for backflow prevention averages around $300. That’s a small price to pay when faced with the alternative home cleanup and health risk.  

8. Add a Flood Vent to Equalize Water Pressure

graphic showing flood vents on a home's exterior

The most severe home damage occurs when a surge of rising water creates pressure on the exterior of your home, causing the foundation wall to cave in or collapse.  

Flood vents may seem counterintuitive, but their smart engineering can help you protect your home. Rather than keeping water out of your home, a flood vent allows water into your basement. This equalizes the pressure on your structure.  

By installing flood vents, you can avoid foundation damage during a water surge. After this stage, you can deal with getting water out of your basement. If you’re in a flood-prone area, your homeowner’s insurance or building codes may even require you to have flood vents. 

9. Use Smart Water Sensors

Technology can be a helpful tool in managing a flood and staying informed about your house. By placing smart water sensors throughout your home and basement, you’ll be able to get notified on your smartphone about where water is entering your home and at what level it’s reaching.  

Add sensors at low points and problem areas, and use your smartphone to monitor remotely. You can be alerted about a problem instantly, letting you know when you need to take action.   

Want a comprehensive checklist to prepare your home?

» Download printable PDF


Look at local maps and online services to see if you’re in a flood-prone area. Many communities also have local information to show you whether or not you’re in a flood-prone areas. If in doubt, call a city representative or a landscaping professional.

Basement floods can be caused by many sources. Internal sources include burst plumbing pipes, leaky appliances, and faulty sump pumps. Heavy rain, poor foundation drainage, and foundation damage are also potential causes. To find the root of the problem, contact your local Groundworks company for a free inspection and basement waterproofing estimate.

Many insurance policies do not cover flood damage, such as preventable instances part of regular home maintenance. However, there are certain circumstances where your damage may be covered. It’s best to check with your insurance agent to go over exactly what your policy covers.

Groundworks Can Protect Your Basement Today!

Groundworks inspector meeting with homeowners

A basement flood and subsequent damage are more than just nuisances, they endanger your home’s safety and your family’s well-being. If your home has already experienced flood damage, refer to our after-flood checklist for next steps. Avoid letting it get that far; don’t wait for a massive flood or other water event before you take action to protect what matters most.

Consider working with Groundworks to install reliable waterproofing tools and keep your basement protected from damage well into the future. We’ll complete a thorough, free inspection and recommend solutions customized to meet your home’s unique needs.

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.