Protecting Your Property from Flooding: HVAC Equipment
Are You at Risk?
If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk from
flooding, check with your local floodplain manager, building
official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator.
They can tell you whether you are in a flood hazard area.
Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and
your house and property from flooding.
What You Can Do
Flood protection can involve a variety of changes to your
house and property -- changes that can vary in complexity and
cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself.
But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect
the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and
plumbing should be carried out only by a professional
contractor licensed to work in your state, county, or city.
One example of flood protection is raising the heating,
ventilating, and cooling equipment in your house so that it is
above the flood level, or surrounding it with a flood wall.
These are things that only a licensed contractor should do.
Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment
ventilating, and cooling (HVAC) equipment, such as a furnace
or hot water heater, can be damaged extensively if it is
inundated by flood waters. The amount of damage will depend
partly on the depth of flooding and the amount of time the
equipment remains under water. Often, the damage is so great
that the only solution is replacement.
In floodprone houses, a good way to protect HVAC equipment
is to move it from the basement or lower level of the house to
an upper floor or even to the attic. A less desirable method
is to leave the equipment where it is and build a concrete or
masonry block floodwall around it. Both of these methods
require the skills of a professional contractor. Relocation
can involve plumbing and electrical changes, and floodwalls
must be adequately designed and constructed so that they are
strong enough and high enough to provide the necessary level
Keep these points in mind when you have your HVAC equipment
raised or floodproofed:
- Changes to the plumbing, electrical system, and
ventilating ductwork in your house must be done by a
licensed contractor, who will ensure that the work is done
correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is
important for your safety.
- If you are having your existing furnace or hot water
heater repaired or replaced, consider having it relocated
at the same time. It will probably be cheaper to combine
these projects than to carry them out at different times.
- Similarly, if you have decided to raise your HVAC
equipment, consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient
unit at the same time. Upgrading can not only save you
money on your heating and cooling bills, it may also make
you eligible for a rebate from your utility companies.
- If you decide to protect your HVAC equipment with a
floodwall, remember that you will need enough space in the
enclosed area for system repairs and routine maintenance.
Also, depending on its height, the wall may have to be
equipped with an opening that provides access to the
enclosed area. Any opening will have to be equipped with a
gate that can be closed to prevent flood waters from
Having your furnace and hot water heater moved to a higher
floor or to the attic will cost about $ 1,500. The cost of a
floodwall will depend partly on its height and length. A
3-foot-high wall with a perimeter length of 35 feet would cost
Other Sources of Information
Building Utilities from Flood Damage,
FEMA -348, 1999
To obtain copies of these and other FEMA documents, call
FEMA Publications at 1-800-480-2520. Information is also
available on the FEMA
- Protecting Your Home from Flooding, FEMA, 1994
- Repairing Your Flooded Home, FEMA-234, 1992
- Flood Emergency and Residential Repair Handbook, FIA-13,
- Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures,
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