3.5 million American homes lose electrical power to their homes every week of the year, according to the National Weather Service. In an instant, lights, heat, refrigeration, communications and other vital services are lost.
In years gone by the loss of power in a home or business was little more than an annoyance. Even today, a few hours without power are little more than a nuisance pedestal pumps. However, extend the loss of electrical power over days and, the consequences can range from destructive to lethal.
Given our reliance on 21st Century technology, it’s easy to imagine how destructive a few days without electrical power can be: Heating and cooling systems fail. Pipes freeze and then burst, causing flooding and structural damage. Sump pumps fail, creating more destruction when basements and cellars flood. Security systems fail, leaving businesses and residences easy targets for looters and thieves. Food spoils in refrigerators and freezers that died. Wells stop pumping water. The potential for dangerous fires spike because most Americans have long forgotten how to live safely with candles and kerosene lamps.
In fact, the National Weather Service says that weekly interruptions of electrical service cost American businesses and homeowners $80 billion a year. Increasing numbers of savvy homeowners use a portable generator to cope with these costly power losses. Typically gas-powered, these versatile units set up quickly, enabling the home or small business owner to rapidly restore power to selected appliances and services.
What does this mean for the people that reside in these areas? Simply put, there’s a lot of water to deal with. Lots of water means lots of problems. People all over the region are experiencing flooding, leaking basements, erosion, sinkholes, drain backups, undermining, and a host of other drainage related problems. The level of grief can range from having landscaping washed out all the way to having an entire building get ruined from flash flooding. University City, a suburb of St. Louis has residents that have been impacted more than once already in the last month by flash floods.
Many residents have been frantically trying to stop water from penetrating their homes or other vital property. There are many different ways one can go about combating issues caused by extreme rainfall. The best place to start is with your current drainage systems. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris. Install gutter guards if you have trees that shed lots of organic material. Move on to any drain pipes that your gutter may connect to. Drainage pipes should also be clean and free of debris. To ensure this, you can rent what is called a pipe snake, or have a professional plumber use a pipe snake to clear blockages and debris from drain pipes. Your yard plays an important role in protecting your home against moisture. Once the soil is subjected to an abundance of precipitation it becomes saturated; unable to absorb any additional water. This is where the degree of slope plays an important role. In heavy rain storms or when the soil is saturated, a yard needs to be graded or sloped away from structures. The grade should steer or guide water to an area that will remove the water, such as storm sewers, french drains, creeks, streets, swales, or hillsides. If your yard is not graded properly you will have standing water or drainage that flows towards your home. This will likely lead to settling, leaky basement or home flooding. The next item that you may have in your home is a sump pump. Be sure it is connected to an electrical ciruit that doesn’t get shared by items that draw much amperage. You want to be confident that its operation is uninterrupted. If it is an older unit, you may want to replace it with a newer model. Having a reliable sump pump is less costly than having to renovate a flooded basement. You can also install a battery backup or alarms on your pump for added security.
If you need other solutions to your outdoor drainage problems you can install a french drain. French drains are simply a pipe buried beneath the ground to relieve saturated soils of moisture. These are typically placed around a structure such as a basement. The pipe is fitted with holes and a filter fabric. This will attract moisture and block debris. Once collected, the water is routed to a nearby storm sewer or area lower than the structure where it can be drained away. French drains can also be used in asphalt or concrete parking lots where water percolates through the pavement. The french drain will keep the water below the pavement by collecting and routing the water away before it can reach the surface.