There’s no escape from news of this winter’s severe floods - and it’s an issue that won’t be going away. But there are a wide range of flood mitigation products available to protect homes. Flood risk is not confined to properties that have previously flooded. In total, over 5.6 million properties across the UK are at risk, according to flooding assessments by Government bodies. Those studies also acknowledge that flood risk will increase, due to climate change and further urban development.
Although the Government is investing in community-level defences, their own flood management policies are clear that property level protection (PLP) will always also be needed. Additionally, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is clear: “If you take steps to reduce the chance of your home flooding … you are more likely to find it easier to get insurance and to be offered premiums that are less expensive … than if you had done nothing.”
Furthermore, the cost of installing PLP is not prohibitive: a Defra/Environment Agency report estimated the cost per property as £2,000 - £10,000, versus the cost of post-flood repair as £10,000 - £50,000, dependent on flood depth.
PLP measures fall into two categories. Flood resistance measures prevent flood water entering the property. Flood resilience measures lessen the damage caused once water has entered.
UK Company Flexseal has recently launched its Floodbreaker range of flood resistance products. Glenn Cartledge, Flexseal’s Commercial Manager, has explained, “Flood resistance measures are often sufficient to ensure no interior damage to a property. However, during a significant flood event, some water may still enter. In those situations, flood resistance measures can buy homeowners valuable time to take further protective action.”
The Floodbreaker range offers whole-house protection and includes barriers to cover doors and windows, an intelligent air brick that ‘shuts off’ when water rises, a water-resistant coating that prevents water ingress through bricks and mortar and a non-return valve for fitting into drainage pipes and manholes, stopping sewage from re-entering a property.
Other available flood resistance products include sandbags, flood doors, temporary air brick covers and flood skirts. Another method of preventing water ingress is to re-model the property or its exterior landscaping to direct water away from it, for example by creating swales or raising the front door.
Flood resilience measures include replacing items that are susceptible to water damage with more water resistant versions, such as fitting synthetic doors and windows, using stainless steel, plastic or solid wood for kitchens and bathrooms and replacing skirting and plaster with water-resistant varieties. Re-wiring a property so that electrical sockets are raised and cables are chased down walls keeps electrics away from rising water levels.
Each property requires individual assessment to understand which measures are most useful – but certainly options are available to make properties more robust in the face of flooding.