Help Squad: Tips to avoid being flooded with expenses

Anyone who has experienced a basement flood can attest to how devastating it can be. Losing old photos, mementos, and even important documents can be upsetting and stressful. Then there’s all the time and money that goes into the clean up and remodel.

Susan Palkovic is the owner of a State Farm agency in Des Plaines, and said floods are the most common claim her agency sees.

“Late March is the time we begin seeing flooding that’s weather related and it goes through fall,” she said.

So, how do you prevent flooding? Help Squad sought the advice of home builder, Peter Canalia, who is the owner of Glenview-based PKPG Companies to find out what you can do to prevent floods this summer and fall. Here are Canalia’s five tips:

1. Inspect and fix the grading surrounding your home. If you have improper grading around your home, a severe rain causes water to collect around your home’s foundation and puts undue stress on your sump pump and drain tile system. Call a landscaper or a small grading company to inspect your grading and if needed, bring in clay to raise the elevation around your home’s foundation, which will pitch water away from the home.

2. Install extensions on all gutters and downspouts. They should project at least five feet away from your house.

3. Make sure your sump pump is working. Canalia said that most floods occur because a sump pump simply stops working. The average life of a sump pump is 5-10 years, and homeowners often don’t realize the pump is no longer functioning. Check your sump pump every year! A plumber can also do this.

4. Make sure your sump pump has battery backup and that it is functioning. When there is a loss of power due to a storm, your sump pump batteries kick in to prevent flooding. However, the life of the batteries is only 3-5 hours. So, if you travel a lot, you might consider purchasing a generator for your home. This way, you’re protected if you aren’t home should the power stay out for an extended period of time.

5. Elevate personal items. This isn’t a tip to avoid floods, but rather a tip to ensure that if a flood occurs, your personal items won’t get waterlogged. Store boxes on shelves that are at least a few inches of the ground, or store items in plastic storage bins.

If you do have a flood, how do you prevent costly long-term damage?

We didn’t want to stop at giving advice just to prevent floods, because the reality is, none of our tips are a guarantee that you won’t end up with one.

So, we contacted Jim Tully, the owner of damage restoration company Servpro, in Glenview, to provide some steps you can take in the event that you do end up with water in your basement:

• Know where your main water valve is, so that if you need to shut it off quickly, you won’t be running around looking for it.

• Contact a plumber immediately to fix the source of the problem.

• Extract the water as soon as possible.

• The most important thing is to dry out the area properly to avoid microbial growth from occurring. That means using a lot of commercial grade de-humidifiers and air movers/fans and running them for at least three days.

• Remove wet drywall in order to expose and dry the wood frame behind it.

• Remove wet insulation.

Tully said he recommends hiring a restoration company. In other words, don’t try to do everything yourself. He explained that mold issues can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get rid of, and if your basement isn’t dried out, it is susceptible to that and other microbial growth.

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