Protecting Your Property from Flooding ...
Are You at Risk?
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Equipment
If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk from
flooding, check with your local floodplain manager, building official, city
engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you
are in a flood hazard area. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect
yourself and your house and property from flooding.
What You Can Do
Flood protection can involve a variety of changes to your
house and property -- changes that can vary in complexity and cost. You may be
able to make some types of changes yourself. But complicated or large-scale
changes and those that affect the structure of your house or its electrical
wiring and plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor
licensed to work in your state, county, or city. One example of flood protection
is raising the heating, ventilating, and cooling equipment in your house so that
it is above the flood level, or surrounding it with a flood wall. These are
things that only a licensed contractor should do.
Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment
ventilating, and cooling (HVAC) equipment, such as a furnace or hot water
heater, can be damaged extensively if it is inundated by flood waters. The
amount of damage will depend partly on the depth of flooding and the amount of
time the equipment remains under water. Often, the damage is so great that the
only solution is replacement.
In floodprone houses, a good way to protect HVAC equipment is
to move it from the basement or lower level of the house to an upper floor or
even to the attic. A less desirable method is to leave the equipment where it is
and build a concrete or masonry block floodwall around it. Both of these methods
require the skills of a professional contractor. Relocation can involve plumbing
and electrical changes, and floodwalls must be adequately designed and
constructed so that they are strong enough and high enough to provide the
necessary level of protection.
Keep these points in mind when you have your HVAC equipment
raised or floodproofed:
Changes to the plumbing, electrical system, and ventilating
ductwork in your house must be done by a licensed contractor, who will ensure
that the work is done correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is
important for your safety.
If you are having your existing furnace or hot water heater
repaired or replaced, consider having it relocated at the same time. It will
probably be cheaper to combine these projects than to carry them out at
Similarly, if you have decided to raise your HVAC equipment,
consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient unit at the same time. Upgrading
can not only save you money on your heating and cooling bills, it may also make
you eligible for a rebate from your utility companies.
f you decide to protect your HVAC equipment with a floodwall,
remember that you will need enough space in the enclosed area for system repairs
and routine maintenance. Also, depend-ing on its height, the wall may have to be
equipped with an opening that provides access to the enclosed area. Any opening
will have to be equipped with a gate that can be closed to prevent flood waters
Having your furnace and hot water heater moved to a higher
floor or to the attic will cost about $ 1,500. The cost of a floodwall will
depend partly on its height and length. A 3-foot-high wall with a perimeter
length of 35 feet would cost about $1,000.
Other Sources of Information
Protecting Your Home from Flooding, FEMA, 1994
Repairing Your Flooded Home, FEMA-234, 1992
Flood Emergency and Residential Repair Handbook, FIA-13, 1986
Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures, FEMA-114,
Building Utilities from Flood Damage, FEMA -348, 1999
To obtain copies of these and other FEMA documents, call FEMA
Publications at 1-800-480-2520. Information is also available on the
World Wide Web at http://www.fema.gov.