Flood Barriers for Homes – Buy or DIY!
Flooding is one of the most expensive natural disasters that a homeowner will ever go through. Flood barriers for homes can help lower the odds of water infiltration into your home. They may save you thousands of dollars and much heartache.
Climate change has caused issues with rising floodwaters that impact rivers, oceans, and high-risk flood zones. Glacier melt and more rain have caused rivers to flow faster and deeper, putting stress on levees designed to protect homes, towns, and cities.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States, it taught us how drastically city levees do fail. Learn how to protect your home from any type of flooding event.
What are Flood Barriers?
Flood barriers for homes are barriers that you can place around the exterior of your house and property, either temporarily or permanently, to divert water and protect your home, yard, and other property that you choose to contain within your flood barriers. These water barriers can help keep your home dry and prevent flood damage even in a few feet of water.
5 Types of Flood Barriers for Homes
As mentioned, there is more than one type of flood barrier, and they all will apply to different scenarios and zones, depending on where you live.
- Flood Barrier Sandbags
- Permanent Flood Barrier Walls
- Temporary Flood Barrier Dams
- Flood Barrier Panels
- DIY Flood Barrier Levees
1. Sandbag Flood Barriers
Traditional Flood Barrier Sandbags
Traditional sandbag flood barriers for homes are canvas bags filled with sand, often by hand. Many small communities, i.e., those along the Mississippi River, will work together to hand-fill sandbags and create make-shift levees to hold the river water back from spilling over into their little town.
The biggest issue with these bags is that after a flood, when waters have receded, those bags are germ-filled. They’re riddled with bacteria and are classified as hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly. They can smell very badly.
They also take a long time to fill and place into position before the flood hits. A better solution, automatic sandbag machines, have been developed to place many sandbags at one time. However, this can be too costly for some homeowners and towns.
Water-Filled Sandless Sandbags
Water-filled self-inflating sandless sandbag flood barriers for homes are an exciting alternative to typical sand-filled bags. These bags can be placed on the ground, surrounding your home, or any structure you are trying to protect, and they fill with water when the bags contact it.
2. Permanent Flood Barrier Walls
Permanent flood barriers for homes refer to flood barriers that are constructed in place and meant to last for many years.
Flood barriers for homes have been around for thousands of years. Homeowners have and can construct flood barrier walls using personal designs. These flood walls are often architecturally designed for both aesthetic beauty and structural correctness.
Cities often have levees constructed around them. Large bodies of water may have dams.
Rivers, such as the Mississippi River, have a series of locks and dams that allow for water levels to be equalized and controlled to some extent.
3. Water Filled Barriers - Dams
Portable water-filled flood barrier dams for homes include the hydro bags that are water-activated flood barriers. There are also long tubes of the same material that can be wrapped around foundations in one piece and stacked for higher barrier protection.
Since installation is fast, you’ll be saving valuable time and money. You can find a handy price calculator here.
4. Flood Barrier Panels
Flood Barrier Panels around the House
Flood panels for homes are easy to mount and create a barrier in front of doors, windows, garages, driveways, and around the house. They can be temporary or permanent. You will find them in various materials like metal and plastic.
An advantage of flood panels is that some come in adjustable heights so that you can eliminate the flood risk of high water. If you’re looking for reliable flood panels specifically for doors, consider the advantages of metal flood barriers.
Door and Window Flood Barriers
Door and window flood barriers refer to a temporary flood panel made to fit into the door or window frame of your exterior doors and windows and form a sealed barrier to keep water out. They are of steel, plastic, or other heavy material. You place them into your door or window frame, on the outside of your existing door or window, with a unique frame that will keep water from seeping under or around your doors and windows. Door flood barriers are generally three feet in height, but taller options are available.
Permanent Flood Door Barrier
A lasting flood door for the home works in the same essential way that the door panel barrier does, but it is designed to be permanently affixed to your door and will still allow you to enter and exit during times that you are not in danger of flooding. There are a variety of styles. Some fold down, some telescope up and down on a track, and some swing out as a removable gate as seen in the picture below. These are very sturdy and withstand the force and pressure of floodwaters.
You can also install a floodproof door.
You might think of this flood barrier for your home as a storm door that mounts on the outer side of your door. The flood door is solid and protects the entire door frame from floodwater. They provide a sealed barrier against waters that may be rushing against the door during a storm surge or from water blown by gale-force winds. Floodproof windows are also available.
Garage Door Barriers
Garage door flood barriers for homes will help to keep your cars, garage possessions, and home safe. An automobile is a significant insurance claim during a flood so this is a wise investment. Also, many people have a door into their kitchen from the garage, as well as boxes of stored items. The garage door barrier will seal the bottom, and sides with some products, of your garage door to prevent water from rushing into your garage space through the garage door frame.
These can be as simple as a track that the door rolls down onto as a simple flood weather barrier or a complete flood door that can cover a few feet of your door or the entire thing. Sandbags and water-filled bags or tubes and tubs can also block garage doors from flooding. It’s even possible to install a permanent automatic garage door flip-up flood barrier as pictured. Depending on your driveway layout, especially if you have a flood wall around the house, flood panel barriers can be added in the driveway to prevent water from entering through the driveway.
5. DIY Flood Barriers
External flood barriers, or levees, for homes can be owner-installed. A levee is a structure that is typically built to hold water from the river. It becomes an extension of the land it surrounds rising waters. There are many levees built along canals and rivers to prevent flooding during the spring.
When snowmelt in northern states rushes into the water, it fills all the water and tributaries that are downstream, including water formed into human-made lakes by using a dam.
You may also build a flood barrier levee, like this man, for your home on your private land. Some homeowners make their own, but it is advisable to seek advice from an engineer because you will only be able to build it on your property. If the water breaches your neighbor's property, without adding some channels to move it away from your home, you may still flood your home and property.
What’s the Right Flood Barrier for Your Home?
To know what sort of flood barriers for your home you may need, you should check FEMA’s website for flood zones in your area. You can view whether your home is in a flood zone and find more information about previous floods at your address. This research will help you adequately protect your home.
This information is available when you buy your home, but you need to research or ask for it. It is not available when you are purchasing raw land that you intend to build on later. It's critical information to know, however, so you should find out about your insurance needs and get quotes for both flood insurance and flood barriers for your home before purchasing.
The best advice is to be proactive and install these flood control products or have them ready to install before a problem. Speak to your flood insurance company to find out if you qualify for any discounts if you've purchased and installed flood protection barriers around your home. And, make sure you have flood insurance if you are at risk for floods. You can check our flood risk calculator (below) and FEMA if you are unsure.
Remember that you don't have to live on the coast to be susceptible to floods. Many arid regions of the country can fall victim to flash floods that happen during extended droughts and then torrential rains that come too quickly to absorb into the soil. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and parts of Utah are prone to this activity.
Flood Risk Calculator
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