If you have just moved to an area where heavy rains are common, you may not be overly familiar with the risks of basement flooding. In drier areas, homeowners tend to take their dry basements for granted; even if a little water does come in, it tends to be a trickle rather than a flood. However, in high rainfall areas, a flooded basement could easily cause thousands of dollars in damage and leave your items under feet — not inches — of water. There are some things you will need to do in order to protect your family and home from this risk.

Make Sure You Have a Working Sump Pump

Your home likely has a sump pump. They are generally required in areas where flooding is likely. The problem is that many homeowners forget to check that their sump pumps are working and only find that they are non-functional when water starts flowing in.

You can test your sump pump by simply pouring a big bucket of water into the pit surrounding the pump. The pump should immediately turn on and push the water outside. Conduct this test monthly. If the pump does not turn on, check to ensure it is plugged in, turned on, and that the circuit has not tripped. Also make sure the float, which is the plastic thing that bobs on top of the water, is correctly connected to the pump via its string or chain.

If your pump does not turn on even after you've checked the items above, contact a sump pump installation and repair company sooner rather than later. They may just need to replace a part or two in your pump, or they might need to install a new one. A new sump pump costs an average of about $1,145 including installation, but this is money well spent since it will save your basement from flooding.

Fill Cracks In the Foundation Promptly

When your concrete foundation develops a little crack, it's tempting to put off patching it until it gets worse. But a small crack can easily grow larger when faced with water stress. Plus, you can patch small cracks yourself, while larger ones must typically be filled by a contractor.

To patch a small crack in a concrete foundation, start by cleaning out the crack to remove debris. Let the area dry, and then squeeze in a pre-mixed concrete mixture from the hardware store. Use a scraper to smooth the layer out. Let it dry completely. Once it is dry, apply a waterproof sealer according to the instructions on the label. (This last step is essential — do not skip it!)

Keep Your Gutters and Landscaping In Good Shape

Your gutters are designed to propel rainwater away from your home, reducing the chances of it coming into the basement. However, if they become clogged, water may run down the side of your home and straight in through any weak points in the foundation walls. Clean out your gutters at least twice a year, and makes sure the downspouts are attached securely.

Your landscaping should also propel water away from your home. The soil should be sloped away from your home's base, encouraging water to trickle down away from the house. If you notice this slope starting to dissipate, build up the soil right next to your foundation, or hire a landscaper to re-establish the proper slope.

With a little attention to detail, you can reduce the chances of a flooded basement in a storm-prone area. Make sure you also have good flood insurance just in case there is a stronger storm than you've prepared for.