By Anessa V. Cohen
On Shabbos, I was sitting at lunch with a few of my grandchildren–the most ardent readers of my column–and my grandson Chaim Avezov asked me why I did not give him credit in my article for discovering the floodwater coming into my garage and sounding the alarm before anyone else realized what was happening. I looked blankly at him, realizing that I had not even remembered that he was the one who had seen it first and called the rest of us into the garage as the water started leaking in. So, in order to get the information straight, I am printing this correction of the details of how the floodwaters first entered my garage, and giving credit where credit is due to Chaim Avezov for sounding the first alarm. Chaim–yasher koach!
Now that I have that out of the way, I wanted to talk a little about smaller and less expensive things we can do, similar to the maintenance we do yearly, to possibly give an extra protective shield to our homes in case of flooding, even low-level flooding from heavy rain.
It occurred to me that we speak of large projects that might be in order after suffering from this crazy storm we just endured and we stopped talking about the small and inexpensive steps that we might be able to implement to protect ourselves that at best would prevent any water leaking into the house, or at the very least would limit the amount of water flooding into the house in the case of a vicious storm.
Some of these steps might be ones you already are in the process of implementing, but for those who have not thought of employing some of these solutions, I am giving you some food for thought.
Central air conditioning compressors usually sit outside directly on a lawn or patio surface when installed. This is an item that we forget exists except when it stops working and then we remember where its location is for the repairman. Any flooding that was a foot or higher in this past storm compromised all those compressors sitting there minding their own business and now required the homeowners to replace them. While you are all in the act of replacing those compressors, you should also consider taking the extra step of having them raised at least a foot or, better yet, several feet above ground level if possible, which would probably prevent any damage to them in the event of any future storm.
Basement doors leading to the outside were big losers in this storm. Many of those outdoor exits were compromised nearly immediately, with the water pouring into the basements after the doors were either knocked down or broken by the wind or pressure of the floodwaters.
When replacing those basement doors, consider reinforcing them differently. In the case of a simple entry door that was used to access a basement, you might consider replacing the frame of the door as well, with a heavy-duty steel or wood frame as opposed to a light wood frame, and make sure the replacement door itself is strong and secure, such as a heavyweight steel door. Also make sure high-grade rubber gaskets are installed on all sides of the doors.
In the case of the older version double pull-up basement doors, which have multiple ways of leaking, more creative stopgap solutions will have to be considered. First it is imperative to make sure that those doors are sound and can handle the extra pressure that might come with a lot of water on top of them. If you had rickety old doors that were gone with the wind at the first start of the storm, replacing them with strong, secure doors is a must. If your doors did not implode during this flood, they are in all probability strong enough that they do not need to be replaced, but that still does not solve the issue of water leaking through the crevices of the doors during a storm. There might be a variety of solutions available if we research thoroughly, but practically speaking, you really need something that either creates an impenetrable seam or at the very least a strong barrier of some sort.
My idea in lieu of going the more expensive way is to cut a piece of waterproof foam larger than the door openings and a piece of plywood just large enough to fit over the edges of the cement frames of the top of the stairs under the folding doors (which can be put away when not in use). When there is a storm warning, the plywood piece can be placed over the stairs, covering the opening with the unrolled waterproof foam on top, its edges slid through the sides of the doors, and then when the doors are closed, the entrance is sealed for the most part from any water seepage. If you hardly ever use this entrance, you can put this in and leave it there all the time. It’s not fancy, but it should do the trick.
A lot of little solutions when dealing with preventing water from entering your home can be done inexpensively and creatively, which will at the least reduce if not stop entry of water to your home–be it rainwater or floodwater. Why not take care of it now when there is no emergency? v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.