January 22, 2016

6 Techniques to Protect Your Garage from Flooding

In late September 2015, heavy rains resulted in overflowing riverbanks throughout Massachusetts. Multiple basements and garages filled with several inches of flood water, and multiple roads closed due to hazardous conditions.

And again in late October, weather forecasters predicted that coastal winds would bring a torrent of rain, remnants from Hurricane Patricia. The state warned residents that a “Franken-tide” was on its way.

As flooding conditions worsen and warnings become more frequent, you understandably worry about your home and property. Your garage, sitting several inches below the rest of your home, seems particularly vulnerable to water damage.

So what can you do to protect against flooding?

1. Replace Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping, as its name implies, keeps snow, rain, sleet, and other weather out of your garage. When in good condition, weatherstripping creates a tight seal between the bottom of your door and the garage floor. And during lighter storms, weatherstripping is enough to protect against minor flooding.

However, weatherstripping wears away after years of friction and exposure. Self-adhesive tape stripping will pull away from the door, while rubber and vinyl stripping becomes dry, cracked, and brittle. If you see any gaps around the door, contact us today and we’ll remove and replace your weatherstripping.

2. Inspect Foundation for Cracks and Damage

As your home settles and shifts, the foundation may crack slightly under the pressure and weight. On sunny days, these hairline cracks pose no threat to your home’s structural integrity. But on rainy days, these tiny holes make your garage more vulnerable to flooding. As water seeps through the cracks, it erodes and widens the space until water pours through your garage.

Before bad weather strikes again, inspect your foundation for cracks and pits. If the cracks look minor, consider sealing them with waterproof paint or a vinyl concrete patch. If the cracks look large, or if the concrete seems to chip or flake, talk to a contractor about replacing the foundation.

3. Install Adequate Drainage

Your street’s gutters and drains are your home’s first defense against floodwater. But during severe weather, these drains can easily overflow and allow water to pool into your property. And if your yard slopes toward your garage, the water may pool up faster than it can drain.

To address the issue, you may need to install a French drain (or trench drain) along your driveway or in front of your garage. These drains create a channel for the water to flow through and then empty a safe distance away from your building.

Keep in mind that your French drain should never direct runoff toward a neighbor’s yard, toward a public sidewalk, or toward a dirt slope with no protective vegetation.

4. Install Flood Vents

Though your garage puts up a good fight against some flooding, most doors don’t have the strength or durability to withstand the pressure of several inches (or feet) of rushing water. Though minor floods might not look like much, many of them have the ability to sweep cars off the streets and crush garage doors like empty soda cans.

While you might not like the idea initially, you may have to allow your garage to flood if you want to protect your home from damage. Flood vents allow water to flow through your garage unobstructed, so the water doesn’t exert pressure on your doors or foundation. As a result, flood waters might not rise high enough to reach your home’s living space.

Better still, if you have a professional install FEMA-compliant vents, you can often qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums.

5. Lay Flood Barriers and Sandbags

During low-level flooding, you can redirect water away from your property and toward the street via sandbags. Though sandbags don’t create a complete seal, they do reduce water damage to your home, garage, and yard.

Simply line your property with the sandbags so they form a sturdy pyramid-shaped wall near the flood zone. Do not build a fortress of sandbags around your property; this technique traps floodwater between buildings and causes additional damage.

If you’d rather not fill sandbags during an emergency, consider purchasing flood barriers or “quick dams.” You can place these products around your property, and they’ll expand when in contact with water. The swollen barriers can reach several inches high in a few minutes.

6. Professionally Landscape Your Yard

Your landscape plays a significant role in water flow. Trees, shrubs, and grass can redirect and absorb flood water to some degree. Similarly, your yard’s natural slope will determine whether water flows toward or away from your garage.

If your area faces regular flooding, hire a landscaper to implement grass barriers, berms, and retaining walls that will direct water toward the street.

Don’t Forget to Talk to a Professional

Although the above methods certainly minimize flood damage to your home and garage, they don’t guarantee 100% protection. Talk to a professional contractor about more ways you can flood-proof your home, and contact DSI Door Services North Shore to replace your older door with a sturdier, weather-resistant option.

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