If your neighborhood has recently endured flooding following severe winter storms, you are probably anxious to assess the damage after waters recede. You may be relieved to find that your basement and carpets seem to remain untouched by flood waters. However, even if your home appears unscathed, your sewer pipes could be masking (or harboring) a potential future problem in the form of flood debris. Read on to learn more about what you'll need to do after a flood to ensure your sewer remains in good working condition
Have your sewer pipes inspected with a video camera.
During a flood, high levels of ground water can seep into sewer pipes, preventing them from draining properly. Pipes that drain into a river or creek could quickly become backed up once flood waters rise over the pipe's opening -- and with these waters often come tree branches, pieces of drywall or other construction materials, caustic chemicals like fertilizer, or heavy metals. If your drainage pipes don't have filters or grates to keep debris out, this detritus could become lodged in one of your pipes, creating a blockage that will likely require professional removal.
Even if your pipes seem to be in fine working order after the flooding, you'll likely want to schedule a video plumbing inspection and sewer cleaning. During this process, a plumber will use a flexible video camera to travel the length of your sewer system, looking for any damage to the interior of the pipes, debris, or narrowed sections of pipe that could be prone to clogging. Because this camera can help show the exact areas where work is needed (without requiring excavation or drain-clearing chemicals), it's one of the least expensive ways for you to assess damage and proactively repair potential problems.
Install protective equipment to prevent damage from future floods.
In some cases, it takes the threat of flood damage to spur disaster preparations. Taking preventive measures like installing grates in all venting pipes to filter out debris (or even installing a pump to help prevent flood water from traveling up your pipes) can dramatically diminish the odds that your home will suffer major flood damage. Because many homeowners insurance policies don't cover flooding without an additional rider, taking these preventive steps can help lower your flood insurance premium to a more affordable level -- or even help you qualify for flood insurance if you live in a high-risk area that could render you otherwise uninsurable.