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updated: 2/19/2014 6:11 AM

5 ways to keep your house from flooding

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  • Warmer temperatures mean melting snow and ice -- a possible flooding.

      Warmer temperatures mean melting snow and ice -- a possible flooding.
    STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer


The snow piles are shrinking and the puddles are growing.

Now, with heavy rain forecast Thursday, flooding is a serious concern for suburban homeowners.

Experts say a few preventive steps can help homeowners minimize the chance of water damage.

This winter has been punishing on homes and local handymen say they've been swamped with calls for burst pipes and leaky ceilings caused by ice dams.

"You know what we recommend? Moving to Phoenix," joked Paul Bors, president of Handyman Matters.

Below are some tips experts recommend to help prevent flooding:

1. Test your sump pump.

Dump a 5-gallon bucket of water into your sump pump (or fill it up to the fill level) and make sure the pump ejects the water. Also, make sure the indicator light is on.

"You mainly want to make sure it's plugged in and it works," said Dominic Leodoro, marketing director of Four Seasons Home Services.

Bors, from Handyman Matters, recommends having a backup sump pump, because "a sump pump is just going to break at some point."

He advises homeowners also check their sump pump pit for dirt or other "gunk" that might have accumulated in the bottom. If you can clear that out it will help keep the pump working properly.

2. Clear areas around downspouts and sewers.

If downspouts and storm sewers are blocked by snow or other debris, the water will have nowhere to go and the area will flood. Leodoro also advises people clear their laundry drains and any drains outside the house.

3. Move snow away from the house.

If there's a lot of snow up against your house, there's a greater chance it will seep into the foundation when it melts. Clear snow from the bottom of window wells. And be aware that concrete around the home might have been warped by winter weather. If it slopes toward the foundation, clear off the snow. If you have ice dams, use some heat tape on the roof or a salt sock. "Even a narrow, 2-inch path will let the water run down so you don't get the ice dams building up," Bors said.

4. If you see water inside, act fast.

If you see trickles of water leaking inside, don't wait. After trying to find the source and stopping the water, get the moisture out of the house as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of mold growth and damage to carpet, drywall and sheet rock.

If there's a wait for a professional, try using a wet vacuum, a hardware store water pump, or even just fans to dry things out.

"Sometimes you're not going to be able to prevent it. Bad things happen. But when it does happen, you want to move quickly," Bors said.

5. Consider a home assessment.

Many companies offer walk-throughs where a professional will check everything from the basement to the roof, including pipes, pumps and electric wiring. A detailed report should point out what people can fix themselves and what they might need a professional for. "It can provide peace of mind ... and see problems before they grow into bigger problems," Bors said.

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