Tips to Choosing a Flood Prevention System

 When you think about floods, what comes to mind? Torrential rains? Levees breaking? Sandbags? What about washing machine hoses? A failed pump? Sewer backups? We tend to underestimate the potential for disaster that exists in our homes, and those not living in a flood zone may think themselves fairly safe from the massive damage that just a few inches of water can produce. This is not even true when it comes to natural floods (they can happen anywhere), and such a mind set leaves a homeowner unprepared and vulnerable.

Every home is plumbed with a network of pipes that connect to a water supply, and any one of the fittings, tubes, fixtures, or appliances found within it or connected to it are susceptible to damage or failure. If they do fail, that water has nowhere to go but out of the damaged area and throughout your home – damaging almost everything in its path, including floors, furniture, and belongings, some of which may be irreplaceable or of significant sentimental or monetary value. There’s little that can be done to prevent these types of accidents – man-made machines fail and leaks happen – but there are plenty of relatively inexpensive ways to prevent or mitigate the damage unchecked water flow can cause when these incidents occur.

Natural Floods

If natural flooding is a major concern or frequent occurrence in your area (i.e., you live in a flood zone), we strongly recommend as much preventative maintenance as possible. For example, performing regular gutter cleaning, installing backwater valves on your sewer lines and floor drains in your basement or low-lying areas, keeping appliances like washers and water heaters above the base flood elevation, and making sure you have a good sump pump system installed and regularly maintain it.

To prevent sewage flowing back into your home through the over-worked or clogged municipal sewer lines during rainy seasons, you can easily and economically install backwater valves on your drainage pipes. When reversal of flow occurs, the backwater valve closes and cuts off the flow so that wastewater and raw sewage cannot get into your home.

Having floor drains is a good way to mitigate water damage from flooding caused by burst pipes or faulty appliances, but these drains are susceptible to backing up during a natural flood and allowing sewage or other wastewater into your home. To help prevent this, we suggest installing a Flood-Guard™ on all basement or low-lying floor drains. Flood-Guards™ use check valve technology to seal off the drain opening. If sewer water begins to backup, it will push up the float inside the Flood-Guard™ until the float seals off the opening. Once the sewage begins to flow back down the drain again, the float will lower and the drain will operate effectively again.

It is important to note, however, that Flood-Guards™ can become blocked by debris, which could allow wastewater to back up into your home. Additionally, water may not drain as quickly through a drain with a Flood-Guard™ installed and (although it is unlikely) could be a problem for homeowners whose primarily flooding concern is from above rather than below.

Appliance Specific Systems

While natural floods are the most common cause of home water damage, washing machines and water heaters aren’t far behind. It makes sense, if you think about it, as the sheer volume of water these appliances use on a regular basis is enough to cause plenty of damage in just minutes. We have a number of appliance specific flood prevention devices that are very effective in protecting your home from renegade machines.

Washing Machines

Our favorite flood prevention device for washing machines is the FloodStop. Installed directly between your washer shut-off valves and supply lines, it turns the water off whenever a leak is detected and sounds an audible alarm. The feature that gives the FloodStop an edge, however, is that it can be connected to an auto-dialer, home automation system, or home alarm system to contact you (or someone else if you are out of town) if a leak occurs. The primary downside to the FloodStop for washing machines is that it won’t turn the electricity to the machine off – which is somewhat mitigated by the automatic alert system since once you’re notified of the leak, you could come turn the machine off.

Similar to the FloodStop, the IntelliFlow™ automatic washing machine shut-off valve is designed to turn the water flow to the machine on or off whenever it senses the machine has been turned on or off. This keeps leaks related to burst supply lines or faulty valves from damaging your home when the machine is turned off. When the machine is on, the IntelliFlow™ will also sense leaks during the wash cycle and turn the water off. This won’t turn the electricity to the machine off either, however.

If you’re looking for something that will turn your washing machine off to help prevent flooding, the WasherWatcher is an excellent solution. The WasherWatcher is plugged into your grounded electrical socket, then the washing machine is plugged into the WasherWatcher. The attached sensor is placed in your laundry tub, standpipe, or wall box. When water levels get too high, the WasherWatcher automatically cuts power to the washing machine so that no more water is pumped into or out of the machine. Once the water level goes down, the WasherWatcher automatically turns the washing machine back on. When used in conjunction with a FloodStop or the IntelliFlow™, you have comprehensive flood protection from washing machine leaks.

Water Heaters

While we do offer FloodStops for both residential and commercial water heaters, we feel the FloodSafe™ Water Detector Shutoff is an excellent option for water heater specific flood prevention. FloodStops will turn off the water supply to your water heater when a leak is detected and notify you of the problem. However, it will not turn the power off to the unit.

The FloodSafe™, on the other hand, will turn off both the water supply and the power source if a leak is detected, then generate an alarm so you know it’s been activated. Different types are offered for gas and electric water heaters, and the leak sensor can detect as little as 1/16th of an inch of standing water. This system also comes with a special “water dam” that surrounds the ground below the water heater to help prevent leaks from spreading.

Other Appliances & Fixtures

For other appliances or plumbing fixtures, there are a variety of FloodStop systems available. They work just like the FloodStops for washing machines and water heaters, and are great for under sink areas, refrigerator water filters/icemakers, dishwashers, and toilets. A multi-purpose FloodStop is available for unique appliances where there is the potential for leaks.

Alternatively, you could choose a Leak Controller system. With a choice of two different connection sizes, these systems work almost the exact same way FloodStops do and are general use – making them great for all kinds of home appliances.

For the ultimate flood prevention with home appliances, we suggest using a WaterWatcher in conjunction with a FloodStop or Leak Controller. While the other systems will turn off the water supply (making them ideal for faucets and toilets), the WaterWatcher turns off the power to the device. Simply plug the WaterWatcher into the electrical outlet, place the sensor, and plug your appliance into the WaterWatcher – so easy almost anyone can do it.


Sometimes you don’t want or need some type of shut-off system – you just need a way to know when there is water where it shouldn’t be. For example, some outdoor places like ponds, barns, sheds, or patios don’t have anything to shut off, but you may still want to know if water is getting into these areas after a storm. An alarm is usually the best solution for these types of applications.

We offer a variety of high water and low water alarms, perfect for ponds, water tanks, and many other outdoor applications. If you need an alarm inside to fit behind your refrigerator, in the bathroom, by the attic swamp cooler, or near the fish tank, our portable water detection alarms are battery operated, loud enough to get your attention, and small enough to fit almost anywhere without being in the way.

We hope you never have to deal with the high costs, headache, and sometimes heartache that can accompany severe water damage, however, now that you have read this article, you have the information needed to choose the right flood prevention device or system for your home. Always remember to regularly check and maintain your home’s plumbing system and any flood prevention device or system you have in place to ensure they work properly and help keep your home flood free.