Flood Prevention For Commercial Property

Unexpected water in a basement can severely damage any and all equipment. Businesses likely have a boiler or hot water heater in the basement, the same place many companies also keep other critical items extra stock, office equipment, seasonal items, and even emergency generators in the basement.

Water can make its way into the basement either through a breach in the building’s system (roof, windows/doors, walls), from a breach in the plumbing system (broken pipe, leaky valve), or from a blocked exit path (closed sink drain, blocked air conditioner drain pan, stopped bathroom fixture).

Be aware of conditions that could lead to potential pathways for water to enter the building. A cold snap could cause a pipe to freeze, expand, and burst. A leaky pipe or valve could be evidence of corrosion. Continuous dripping from a leak will eventually fill the basement with equipment damaging moisture or water. An ice dam on the roof could creep under the shingle system and cause the roof to leak.  Leaky or damaged basement windows and doors could allow rain, drifting snow or snowbank, or misdirected gutter downspouts to take water into the basement.


Water coming into basements can be prevented, or at least mitigated, to reduce damage to the equipment:

  • A pump can be used to remove water that has collected in the basement. Having access to a gas-powered pump could be needed if the power goes out.
  • Knowing where the water pipes are and where they lead to can quickly help assess a problem.
  • Owning a snow rake and keeping roof clear of snow can prevent water intrusion from ice damming.
  • Clearing drifting snow and keeping plowed snow away from the building will prevent intrusion when the snow melts.
  • Inspecting windows and doors for proper function and tight sealing will ensure that the wet elements are kept outside.
  • Proper maintenance and cleaning of gutters and downspouts will verify that the water will pass through them when it rains.
  • If there is there a sump pump in the basement, verify that is it in proper operating condition. Make sure that the sump pumps outlet hose is directed to pump water sufficiently away from the building.
  • During a rain event, inspect gutters and downspouts to ensure that they’re carrying the water sufficiently away from the building.
  • Inspect windows and doors to verify that they’re closed and that window panes and door seals will properly seal out the elements.
  • During and after a snow event, inspect for ice dams on the roof and clear them as necessary.
  • Inspect for, and remove, any drifting snow and snow banks that may cause a leak into a window or door.
  • Instruct the plowing crew to keep snowbanks away from the building.
  • Inspect basement pipes for corrosion and leaks. Repair them as necessary.
  • If a cold snap is expected, provide heat to the pipes that can freeze, and/or open the faucet slightly to allow water to trickle into a sink or basin.

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© 2020 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form.

Noel Skwiot

Principal Mechanical Engineer at Hartford Steam Boiler, with over 30 years in industrial equipment design and support.

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