How to retrofit your home to help protect against flood

flooded laundry

Erin Delahunty

Posted May 05, 2023

The very real threat posed by floods can be somewhat mitigated by careful planning and preparation. Here’s what you can do to make your home more resilient to flood damage.

Damaging floods across Australia have prompted many homeowners to think about what they can do to protect their property.

Planning and preparation are key when it comes to floods. Here are some practical tips for retrofitting a home to minimise the risks associated with floods and avoid costly repairs afterward.

Flood resilient guide to retrofitting your home

Check the flood risk

Flooding can happen anywhere, but some areas are more prone than others, so knowing the risk is key and can help guide decisions about what steps to take.

Local governments usually have local flood maps that outline the risk. State and territory governments and emergency agencies such as the SES also make flood information available online.

RACV Trades worker exiting the RACV van and entering a home

RACV Trades can help retrofit your home for floods. Image: Supplied

Install power points as high as possible

Installing power points high on walls is a simple and effective way to make a home more flood resilient and protect against the damaging effects. When they’re installed higher than usual, it’s less likely power points will come into contact with floodwater. This can help prevent water from seeping into electrical outlets and causing electrical damage.

The average cost to reallocate or installation of a power point is between $80 to $150 per point, depending on the condition and safety of the electrical installation, according to RACV Emergency Home Assist Electrical Trade Manager Andrew Gouvousis.

He recommends considering the following points when installing power points in areas affected by water and humidity:

  • The minimum requirements of Australian standards for selection and installation of electrical equipment in locations subject to the effects of water or humidity
  • Whether the power points provide enhanced protection against electric shock where the presence of water or high humidity present a risk
  • Whether the power points provide adequate protection against water or humidity damage.

Find a local, qualified electrician to undertake this job.

Improve sealing in tiled areas

Checking and improving sealing in tiled areas can help prevent water from penetrating through gaps in the tiles and causing water damage.

Tiled areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, are particularly susceptible to water penetration, especially during a flood. Water can seep through gaps and accumulate on the sub-floor, impacting the structural integrity of the home.

Improving sealing in tiled areas can also prevent the growth of mould and mildew, which can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues.

Properly sealed tiled areas can be easily cleaned and sanitised, preventing the growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. This is particularly important during and after a flood when the risk of bacterial contamination is high.


overflowing broken gutters

Regularly cleaning your gutters can prevent overflowing water. Image: Getty

Replace cabinets with flood-resistant materials

Replacing cabinets, in places like kitchens, with flood-resistant materials can help prevent water damage.

During a flood, water can quickly accumulate inside and cause extensive damage to cabinets, furniture and other belongings.

By replacing cabinets with flood-resistant materials, homeowners can minimise the impact of flooding and reduce the likelihood of having to replace damaged items.

Flood-resistant cabinets are typically made from materials resistant to water damage, such as stainless steel or marine-grade plywood, which are less likely to warp, rot or develop mould and mildew, which can be a significant problem with floods.

Additionally, flood-resistant cabinets can be designed to be easily cleaned and disinfected, which is crucial for preventing the growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms often found in floodwaters.

Raise appliances in laundry

Raising appliances like washing machines and dryers can help prevent water damage to them and reduce the risk of electrical problems if there is a flood. Building a simple, raised platform for your laundry appliances can even free up more room for storage, and deliver ergonomic benefits.

Appliances can be particularly vulnerable to water damage, so it makes sense to protect them and reduce the likelihood of having to replace them.


heat pump hot water system outside a home

Retrofitting for floods is a good time to consider a heat pump hot water system. Image: Supplied

Replace hollow core doors with solid core doors

Replacing hollow core doors with solid core doors can help prevent water from penetrating.

Hollow core doors are constructed with a cardboard-like material in the middle, making them highly susceptible to water damage during a flood. This can lead to doors warping, rotting or even disintegrating, which can compromise the structural integrity of the home.

Solid core doors on the other hand are constructed with a solid piece of material, such as hardwood or engineered wood, which makes them much more resistant to water damage. They’re less likely to warp, rot, or develop mould and mildew, even after prolonged exposure to moisture.

Raise gas hot water units

Gas hot water units are particularly vulnerable to water damage, so raising them above flood level – onto a concrete plinth, steel brackets or stainless steel-framed bench – can help prevent damage and reduce the risk of electrical hazards.

Floodwaters can be highly conductive and can cause electrical systems to short circuit, so whether located inside or outside, raising hot water units is a smart idea.

Retrofitting for flood is also a good time to consider switching to a heat pump hot water system, which can reduce hot water energy consumption by up to 80 per cent.


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