Flooding due to weather doesn’t just happen in hurricane-prone areas or during spring rains. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, melting snow can cause big problems. Snowmelt flooding occurs when the temperature rises above the freezing point and the snow on the ground begins to thaw. Did you know that, on average, 10 inches of snow equals one inch of water? When the temperature fluctuation is extreme in a short period of time, the resulting water can quickly overwhelm residential drainage systems, leading to significant water flow onto nearby properties. The situation is made worse when rain falls on top of snow, speeding up the melting process while adding more water – as we are currently seeing with the historic spring flooding in Nebraska and neighboring states. Here are a few tips about how to avoid flooding from snowmelt and what to do if your home or business floods.
How to Avoid Snowmelt Flooding in Your Home
- Whenever there is snow on the ground and a significant change in temperature, it’s a good idea to check your basement for indications of snowmelt flooding. Water damage from gradual thaws can be just as destructive, so prevention is always the best course of action. If you don’t have a sump pump, consider getting one. If you do have a sump pump, test it periodically to ensure it’s in working order.
- Shovel any snow away from your home’s foundation, particularly away from ground level windows or doors.
- Remove snow from your roof wherever possible to reduce the amount of water that your gutters will have to handle in a thaw. Keep drainage areas clear of snow and ice so if water does get inside, it can get back out.
- In better weather, make sure the ground next to your home is such that the grade slopes away from it. Repair any cracks you find in the foundation and extend your downspouts so that they divert water at least five feet from the house.
What to Do if Your Home Floods
- Remove as much water as quickly as possible to limit damage. Use whatever tools you can find that make sense for the amount of water – towels, mops, buckets, wet/dry vacuums, pumps, etc.
- After the water is removed, it’s time to remove anything that it damaged. Materials that are cracked, sagging, or crumbling should be thrown away in thick plastic bags. Damp items may be able to be salvaged, but it is best to err on the side of caution.
- Be sure to dry and sanitize your flooded area thoroughly. Use multiple fans and move them around to maximize air movement. Dehumidifiers will also ensure a faster drying time. Then, spray a hospital-grade disinfectant at least once to prevent mold and odors.
If your home was damaged by melting snow, calling a professional restoration company to get your home back to pre-loss condition is essential. While you may be able to mitigate some of the damage yourself, the equipment available to consumers is not as effective or efficient. Professional water damage restorers know what to do when your home floods from melting snow and how to best handle potential mold contamination.