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If your Palm Harbor, Florida, commercial building lies in a flood plain or you are concerned about the potential for flood damage, give yourself peace of mind and set up additional protections for your facility. The cost and design of establishing flood protection will differ depending on whether new construction is needed or the established building can be retrofitted. Here are a few ways to protect your investment.

Know Your Design Flood Elevation

The Design Flood Elevation, or DFE, is used to determine the anticipated height of potential flooding. Based on these measurements, machinery and piping for HVAC, fuel, electrical, sewage, and potable water should be elevated to a point higher than the DFE, if possible. In newer construction, these precautions can be built into the design. Existing commercial buildings may have to be more creative with adjustments.

Check Local Building Codes

Relocating some machinery associated with your business could require building platforms, piers, posts, columns, or pilings, so check with local ordinances to be sure you are within code. Any changes to the structure of the building should be double-checked, and you may be required to have certification from local officials prior to beginning construction. Failure to do so could result in fines or removal of any unauthorized construction.

Perform a Thorough Analysis of the Utilities to be Moved

To save costs and start with a complete view of your project, you should explore each utility in depth. If you’re relocating HVAC systems, you should ask the following questions: Is flooding expected to be shallow enough so the components can be placed on a pedestal? If not, is there another location above the DFE where they can be relocated? If not, can a balcony be built to accommodate the machinery? If the DFE is shallow, can a floodproof enclosure be built?

Create Elevated Structures

If your analysis has determined that an elevated structure is appropriate for the DFE and the components you are relocating, consult local business codes to be sure your structure meets requirements. Have a professional move the appropriate machinery to ensure that all connections are reestablished and properly fitted.

Build Waterproof and Flood-Proof Enclosures

If your building is located on land that is expected to have shallow flooding, a waterproof and flood-proof enclosure can be used. The components that cannot be moved can be outfitted with as much waterproofing as possible as well as a flood-proof enclosure built to keep water away from the machinery. These enclosures are generally kept up year-round and are considered to be passive flood protection.

Combine Elevation With a Flood Proof Enclosure

In some cases, your building will not be able to protect every utility component with just elevation or a flood-proof enclosure. In these situations, a combination of both options should be employed. If you are unable to raise the machinery beyond the DFE level, raise the elevation as much as possible and create a flood-proof environment as well. The combination of preventive measures is more likely to protect in the case of flooding.

Secure Outdoor Components

Outdoor components should be elevated as much as possible. In the case of fuel tanks, water spouts, and piping, if you are unable to move them beyond the DFE level, they must be secured. Create an environment in which the utilities are less likely to be damaged by debris and ensure they cannot float away.

Protect the Building From Outside

With sufficient land and investment, additional precautions can be taken outside of the building. You can construct a levee with a sump pump to deter and relocate floodwaters. You can also construct a flood wall around the building that is anchored and reinforced and connected to the same sump pump to relocate water as it approaches.

Whether your commercial building is located on a known flood plain or you are simply taking precautions against future possible flooding, these tips should be helpful in guiding you toward your plans. You should also consult with our professionals at ServiceMaster 24 Hour at 813-603-2001. We can offer additional insight into flood-plain construction and repair.

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