Handyman: Plan ahead to avoid potential flood damage

Glenn Haege

It was a year ago that Metro Detroit experienced record-setting rains and flooding that left thousands of homeowners with water in their basements. The recent rainstorms in early August reminded me that Mother Nature can deliver devastating rains at anytime in the spring and summer, so you really need to be prepared to withstand the potential negative outcomes when these drenching storms hit.

Since my motto “Water Always Wins” is especially true when you have big rains, here are some tips that will help you lessen the potential damage.

Do preventive maintenance

Before you are faced with water in your basement as a result of torrential downpours, or even a steady rain, take some preventive measures to minimize the potential damage.

First, consider getting your storm and sanitary system drains hydrojetted so they work properly when the heavy rains start to fall. Then make sure your sump-pump is in good working order. Also consider getting either a city water powered or battery backup sump pump so you have a fighting chance if your sump pump dies. Two companies that can handle both the hydrojetting and sump pumps are Plumbing Professors, (800) 654-1300,, and Rooter MD, (800) 766-8376,

Another preventive measure is having backwater valves installed. This stops any sewage or storm water from backing up through the floor drains. S.A.S. Services, (248)-546-2345, is one company that can install backwater valves. Sump pump owners will only need one.

Fixing the cracks in your basement walls can also help keep the water out. To fill a crack, it is best to inject it with polyurethane or epoxy. I recommend calling a company such as Foundation Systems of Michigan, (877) DRY-MICH,; Mr. Sponge, (248) 583-1115, and SAS Services.

On the outside of the home, make sure your ground slope is draining away from the house. It should drop 1 inch per foot of the slope. If yours doesn't, you need to re-grade it.

Then make sure your gutters aren’t clogged and are properly aligned, and that your downspouts send the water away from your foundation by using downspout extenders.

While the focus for water damage after a big rain is usually on a flooded basement, don’t forget that a leaky roof can also be a serious problem. Curled or broken shingles and cracks in the valleys of the roof can lead to roof leaks when it rains, so call an experienced roofing company like Kearns Brothers, (888) 355-6700,, or McGlinch and Sons Home Improvement, (313) 278-2777,, to get it inspected and repaired if necessary.

Improve basement storage

Storing items in cardboard boxes on the floor of the basement doesn’t protect them from water damage when you have a flood. Instead, get them up off the floor by stacking them on shelves, or better yet store them in plastic storage bins with lids such as the ones available from Rubbermaid,

Review insurance coverage

One of the biggest problems when a basement floods is not having the proper insurance coverage for the damage to personal items, furniture, big-screen TVs and all the other things you have in today’s typical basement. And in the 2014 flood, even furnaces and water heaters were damaged because of the height of the water.

So now is the time to check your insurance coverage and add the extra riders to your policy to cover these items as well as the cost of cleanup. That is especially important if you have a finished basement, because the damage costs could be much higher.

Don’t procrastinate

The weather forecasters call them “pop up thunderstorms” for a reason — because they can appear almost instantly. Unfortunately, the water damage a huge rain can cause to your home is also instantaneous. So follow these preventive tips now and you will have a better chance of surviving the next big downpour.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.