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Don’t let water wash you out

5 tools and tricks to protect your home from water damage

The Itsy Bitsy Spider’s plight is a cakewalk compared to having water wash you out of your home. Because when the sun comes out, it doesn’t do a thing to reverse water damage.

Trust me, I know—my family and I spent a month living out of a hotel after a water pipe froze and burst while we were at work, partially flooding both levels of our home.

But hey, every not-so-great experience teaches you something. Here are five tools and tricks to help you avoid damage from flooding—both external (e.g., sewer backup) and internal (e.g., burst pipe).

  1. Backflow preventer: $$$$ You might need this if: You’re at risk for sewer backup based on where you live, or it’s already happened at your house. The perk, in a nutshell: This stops water from backing up into your house through your sewer drain. It’s an involved update—think lots of digging, plus coordination with your city’s sanitation department—and you’ll definitely need a contractor.
  2. Backup sump pump: $$ You might need this if: You already have a sump pump. The perk, in a nutshell: Installing a backup sump pump rounds out the protection you already have. Your backup will kick in if the main pump fails (for instance, if debris gets caught in the pump) or if there’s a power outage. Options can vary by hundreds of dollars, so you have a good amount of wiggle room.
  3. Clear gutters: FREE You might need this if: You own a home with gutters (it’s that simple). The perk, in a nutshell: Keeping your gutters clear prevents clots of leaves from forming—and causing all sorts of ruckus to your roof, foundation, basement, etc. It’s certainly something you can do on your own, but it’s obviously safer to hire a licensed and insured professional.
  4. Generator: $$$ You might need this if: You frequently lose power in the winter. The perk, in a nutshell: It’ll keep your furnace going, so your pipes don’t freeze. Ideally, choose one that runs off natural gas and comes on automatically. Generators can get crazy expensive (upwards of $10,000); however, if you get one that’s just big enough to keep your heating system running, it won’t cost you as much.
  5. Water main in the off position: FREE You might need this if: You’re leaving home overnight, or longer. The perk, in a nutshell: It’s always a good idea to shut off the main when you leave the house for a trip. Otherwise, if a connector somewhere in your plumbing system fails, or the power goes out and a pipe freezes and bursts, you could have water gushing inside your house for days before you return.

Water can cause serious damage in your home. Head it off with a little forethought and a few tips.

What advice would you share?