Even a foot or so of water around your house from minor flooding can cause severe damage. There are two ways to protect doorways, the most likely place for water to find a way into your home: sandbags and urethane foam.
Sandbags have long been the most common method to get some protection.
But many local governments limit the number of sandbags provided to each home, possibly enough to barricade only two doorways. Some have stopped making them available at all.
Check with local emergency management offices or watch for news and Inter net reports of where sandbags are being distributed.
The best use of sandbags is to protect and anchor plastic sheeting on the door. Sandbags alone will not keep all water out.
First place the plastic against the door and on the ground in front of the door. Extend the plastic beyond the edges of the doorway. You can use duct tape to help keep it attached to the door and wall.
Pile sandbags against the door and over the plastic on the ground, extending the bags slightly beyond both sides of the doorway. Put the next row of bags on top with the center of the bags over the gap in the first row similar to the way bricks overlap.
Place the third row in line with the bottom row.
This will give you some protection for about a foot of water.
If you want to go higher, you’ll need a base two bags wide to go up one more row and a base of three bags to stack them four high.
Another way to seal doors is to use expanding urethane foam. This product comes in spray cans available in most hardware stores.
The foam swells on contact with air, creating a solid, plastic-like mound.
A can or two will generally be enough to seal all of the doors in a house. You can also use it on your garage door.
Apply the foam around the outside edges of the door about 2 or 3 feet up the door. If water gets higher than that, chances are it will find other ways into your house.
You can remove the foam by prying it free with a putty knife.
The foam can also be used to fill low dryer vents or other openings in your walls.
Both methods have some drawbacks.
Sandbags weigh 30 to 45 pounds, and you need to wear gloves when handling them because the rough bag material can be hard on your hands. Plus, you may not be able to get enough to block all of your doors.
Once the storm is past, you have to dispose of the sand and bags. The county won’t come to get them.
The foam can be messy to clean up and probably will peel paint or finish from your doors when you take it off.
But if you expect a foot or so of flooding, disposing of the bags or cleaning the foam is easier than dealing with damage from the water inside your home.