Flood defences: the kit you need to protect your home

You've got candles for power cuts and a shovel for when it snows. This is the kit you need for the next big flood.
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The wettest winter for 250 years has been playing havoc in southern England - but who really believes it will be another 250 years before similar floods return? 

The Lea river flooded at Chingford, a water treatment works overflowed in Croydon and the Thames burst its banks at Hampton. But don’t worry, London councils have 10,000 sandbags between them to keep homes dry - a laughably low number.

With water being relentlessly inventive in the ways it finds to enter our homes, its time to fight back with a few clever DIY products that could mean the difference between inconvenience and disaster.

Remember, flood water doesn’t only enter via gaps around doors and windows, it can come in through air bricks and up through drains into baths, sinks and lavatories. In extreme cases, when the ground becomes saturated, water seeps up through floorboards.
Where to find help
Many firms sell flood protection products, including barriers, sealants, toilet seals, flood-resistant air bricks and lightweight alternatives to sandbags. These items can be bought at larger DIY stores or online direct from manufacturers. A list of kitemarked products is on the National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages Directory.

Home owners flooded for the first time and facing major repairs when the water subsides should think about wall-mounting TVs, raising electricity points, replacing carpets with tiles and buying easy-to-remove rugs. Stainless steel kitchens can be steamed cleaned and withstand water better than wood and other composite products. 

Advice on preparing for a flood can be found on the websites of the Environment Agency, the Flood Protection Association and National Flood Forum.

Forget sandbags
Absorbeez sound disturbingly medical but are in fact a clever lightweight alternative to traditional sandbags. Filled with an absorbent polymer that soaks up water, these bags expand in size to form a flood barrier for doorways, windows and garages. Carefully laid, they can be more effective than sandbags, claims their manufacturer, Action Dry Group. They cost from £51.48 for five bags designed to protect a front door. They can be purchased from the Upminster-based company by phoning 01708 501581. Action Dry Group is offering Evening Standard readers a 10 per cent discount on purchases made within the next seven days. Quote code number ES0214 (absorbeez.com).

Seal up the loo

PanSeal: designed to stop sewage and flood water flowing into your home through a downstairs loo
The PanSeal is designed to stop sewage and flood water flowing into your home through a downstairs loo. A rubber tube around a plastic plate can be pumped up so that it expands to create a watertight seal when fitted underneath the rim of the lavatory. The product is available for next-day delivery from Muswell Hill-based maker Floodtite, for £34.98. Phone 020 8442 0872 (floodtite.com).

Be smart with bricks
Air bricks can easily be overlooked when organising a home’s flood defences, but large amounts of water can pour through their tiny holes. You can either replace your existing air bricks with Smart Airbricks, which have water-sensitive valves that close the holes when water starts to enter them, or you can screw a vent guard over your existing air brick. Both products are available from Carmarthen-based maker Floodgate. Smart Airbricks from £80 and vent guards from £45. Phone 01267 234205 (floodgate.ltd.uk).

Plug the gaps

From £1,100: Flood Ark’s barriers work for front doors, windows, patio doors and garage doors
You can install barriers to stop water seeping under front doors or through the gap between the door and frame. The barriers also work for windows, patio doors and garage doors. Norwich-based Flood Ark’s barriers are made to order and slot into aluminium frames that can be permanently fitted into the fabric of a building. The company’s larger barriers can be erected at the front of driveways or as temporary boundary walls. From about £1,100 for a single door barrier. Phone 01603 879977 (floodark.com).

No going back
To stop water coming up through the drains into your sinks and baths, put a non-return valve into pipework. Flood Control NI manufactures its own range of patented non-return valves which it says can be fitted in minutes and without any specialist expertise or equipment. Made from plastic or clay, the valves cost from £86, including p&p. They are made  in Leicestershire from 95 per cent recycled materials (0800 093 3463 watertightinternational.com).

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