Spring river flooding in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys
Springtime can mean spring river flooding – is your home prepared?
Spring has finally arrived in earnest here in Western Montana, and though that brings the joys of songbirds and green foliage, it also often brings rain, run-off, and the risk of flooding. The Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys are particularly vulnerable to rising waters in the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers, and while there is nothing, we as individuals can do regarding water levels, there are things we can do to protect our homes against flooding:
- Know if your home is at risk! FEMA provides Flood Maps on its website that can help you determine if your home is in a flood zone. Another great resource is your local news station’s online archive, where you can find out where floods have occurred in the past.
- Know your coverage. Flood insurance is not covered in most standard homeowners’ policies, and according to FEMA, nearly 25% of flood insurance claims come from outside “high-risk” flood zones. If you have any reason to fear flood damage to your home, you may want to speak to your insurance agent about your options.
- Be diligent about shoveling snow away from your foundation, and make sure water is able to drain away from it, as well.
- Have a plan. Check out our “Steps for an Insurance Home Inventory” in the Why SERVPRO category for more tips that can help in the event of a flood.
Emergency planning is an activity that can—and should! —involve the whole family. And don’t forget, if your home experiences water, fire, or mold damage, SERVPRO of Missoula is always here to help.
Preventing your pipes from freezing during a Missoula winter
Don’t let frozen pipes disrupt your holiday season!
In genuine Montana fashion, the seasons have changed rather rapidly here in the Missoula Valley; nightly temperatures are now routinely below freezing, and as they continue to drop, the chances of frozen pipes in and around your home only rise. Because water expands as it freezes, it puts pressure on the material containing it. If the pressure becomes too great, you could have a burst pipe on your hands.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep those faucets flowing during winter months. The first step is knowing which pipes are most vulnerable to freezing. Outdoor pipes, like supply lines to swimming pools or sprinklers, are the most vulnerable and should be drained according to manufacturer instructions. (Don’t use antifreeze in these pipes unless specifically directed to do so, as it can be harmful to both pets and the environment.) Outdoor valves that run water from indoor supply lines (like hose bibs) should be left open to drip and allow water expansion outward, while the valve on the indoor side should be closed for the winter.
Winterizing doesn’t end there, though. Pipes along exterior walls, or in areas of the home with little to no insulation, are also at risk of freezing. Keep doors closed as often as possible to protect pipes in unheated garages or shops. Inside your home, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets containing pipes so that warm air can circulate, and consider adding insulation in crawlspaces and attics where pipes are present. There are a number of specialty products on the market for pipe insulation, such as pipe sleeves, heat tape, and heat cable, but even ¼” of newspaper can help protect pipes in freezing conditions.
When subzero temperatures persist, you can also take the extra precaution of turning your faucets to drip; even at a rate of 5 drips per minute, running water through your pipes can help prevent freezing. Then, if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, be sure to keep your heat set to 55°F or higher. It’s better to spend a little extra on heat than a lot extra on property damage caused by a burst pipe.