Can a flood barrier be incorporated in a brick home on a concrete slab?

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Floods November 10, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

No. Effectively blocking the passage of water through windows and doors is an essential component of a flood protection system, but it is not sufficient. A well built brick-frame house on a concrete slab has weep holes in the bottom course of bricks that provide for ventilation of the space behind the brick. This is a building code requirement. Also, bricks are porous to water, so water will come directly through the wall. This protection method is called dry floodproofing (keeping water out of a building by stopping it at the wall of the building). It requires sealing the walls AND blocking the window and door openings and ANY penetration in the walls (for vents, lines, pipes, etc.). It can be done, but is somewhat risky, because the dry floodproofed house may experience problems with moisture because the sealing materials and methods interfere with property ventilation. On the positive side, a well-built brick home is unusually sturdy enough to withstand the pressures of standing water up to three feet - if it is properly sealed. A proper sealing of a brick veneer wall would involve removing the brick veneer and installing the water barrier at the level of the sheathing. However, the National Flood Insurance Program does not recognize dry floodproofing as protection for residential buildings. So no credit will be given on flood insurance premiums, and, if the building is required to meet the elevation requirements for new construction, dry floodproofing is not a legitimate alternative. Dry floodproofing is a legitimate alternative to elevation for NON-residential buildings only. Closures for the window and door openings are available commercially. Additional information on dry floodproofing can be found here. Check with a local engineer or builder familiar with flood design to discuss options.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.