Basement Flooding Can Cause Big Boiler Problems

Flooding is among homeowners’ worst nightmares. The damage occurs fast – it’s often unstoppable – and water does a very good job of ruining a lot of things! It’s easy to see how carpeting, furniture, walls and wood can be damaged by water. Other items that might be in the basement – like laundry equipment, power tools and refrigerators or freezers – are also prime targets for water damage. Here’s something that homeowners don’t immediately think about: boilers and furnaces can also sustain critical damage during a flood.

If floodwaters make contact with your boiler, furnace or water heater, you’ll want to have these appliances replaced. Even if the unit isn’t completely submerged, replacement is warranted because water, dirt and condensation associated with flooding can accumulate in valves, gauges and controls for these devices. In addition, exposure to water can promote or accelerate the accumulation of rust and compromise the integrity of the equipment.

Do not attempt to restart a boiler or furnace that has been flooded or even partially submerged. Instead, contact a licensed HVAC contractor for an inspection. The contractor can identify the components that must be replaced, or will advise you on a complete system replacement.

Here’s something else to think about: a “manmade flood” – such as what might happen when a pipe bursts or a hot water tank gives out – can also cause significant damage. Generally, a home water heater holds 40-50 gallons of water, and tanks are often situated near furnaces or boilers. That volume of water is not enough to completely flood the basement, but it may cause significant damage to a nearby furnace or boiler.

To avoid this kind of problem, have your water tank inspected periodically for signs of rust or aging. Maintain the sacrificial anode on your hot water tank by changing it out according to manufacturer recommendations and inspect the check valve on the tank regularly. If your hot water tank sits in close proximity to your furnace, consider having it moved to a location that offers better protection to your furnace or boiler.

As a final step, verify that your homeowners’ insurance covers both “dirty” and “clean” flooding. Dirty floods are those created by natural events like rainstorms and snowmelts, where water seeps or pours into the foundation from outside. Broken or open pipes and damaged hot water tanks cause most clean flooding. You may require special additional homeowners insurance to cover both hazards, and to ensure that your HVAC equipment is completely protected against this kind of loss.

As always, if you have any issues with flooding, or with your boiler, furnace or water heater, please give Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating a call at (617) 288-2911. We offer around-the-clock service and complete furnace and boiler service in Boston. Don’t forget to friend Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook!