What Are the Most Common Causes of Flooding in Homes?
puddled water in a home
Home Security

What Are the Most Common Causes of Flooding in Homes?

By Ring on January 26, 2024

Whether you accidentally leave a sink running or turn on a broken appliance, a few leaks in your home are inevitable. But when a leak turns into a full-on flood, it can wreak havoc on your property. Depending on how big your house is, one inch of water can cause between $10,000 and $50,000 worth of damage, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Home flooding is often preventable — especially when you know how it can occur. Learn about some of the most common causes of home flooding, how to prevent them, and a simple way to help detect potential damage.

Broken Pipes

Homeowners in cold areas (and in recent years, even those in not-so-cold ones) are at risk of burst pipes during freezing temperatures. That’s because water expands as it freezes, which can put pressure on pipes and cause them to crack.

According to the North Texas Municipal Water District, a standard broken pipe can leak 10,000 gallons of water in just a few hours if no one stops the leak. But there are steps you can take during winter to help prevent pipes from bursting. The American Red Cross recommends draining outdoor water sources, adding insulation to unheated areas in your home, and using pipe insulation for exposed pipes. Once cold weather strikes, you can also open cabinet doors to help heat circulate around pipes, turn on faucets and let them drip, and keep the temperature in your home consistent.


Appliances throughout your home, from the kitchen to the laundry room and bathrooms, require water to work — which means they’re at risk of leaking. These appliances include dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, refrigerators, toilets, and sinks. If the hose connecting to your water supply wears down or the connection point weakens, water can leak into your home when you’re using the appliance.

The EPA recommends keeping an eye on your water usage, which can clue you in to hidden leaks. You can also check the valves on your appliances to ensure they’re in good shape and replace them if they’re old or worn.

For homes with basements, sump pumps can also malfunction and cause flooding. From power outages to motor failures, there are several reasons why your sump pump might leak. FEMA recommends a few steps you can take to maintain your sump pump and help prevent future issues.

Drainage Issues

Keeping the ground around your home dry is crucial in preventing water problems in your basement or foundation. Without proper drainage, you can experience water or mud around entryways, water leaking back into your home, damaged building components, and even pests around your home’s exterior, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy points out many factors that can cause drainage problems, including:

  • Clogged gutters or an undersized or inadequate gutter system
  • Improper sloping around your house, which can lead to standing water
  • Flat patios, driveways, walkways, and other concrete features that don’t direct water away from the house
  • Missing drains or pathways to direct water to drainage systems
  • A lack of waterproof coating on exterior walls
  • A nonexistent sump pump or drain in homes with basements
  • There are many ways to address poor drainage, from strengthening your gutter system to simply adding a drain. You can also seal cracks in your basement or crawlspace floor and apply a waterproof coating to prevent further water issues.

    Severe Weather

    rain on a house

    According to FEMA, many weather events can lead to flooding, including rain and snow, storm surges, coastal storms, and water system overflows. According to the National Science Foundation and the EPA, these severe weather events are becoming more common across the country, from the Midwest to the East and West Coasts. You’ve probably seen evidence of this in the news — or maybe you even experienced the historic Midwest flooding last July or the unprecedented rainfall in New York City earlier this year.

    While you can’t predict when a flood might happen, you can take some steps recommended by FEMA to reduce damage to your property, including storing valuables in watertight containers and sealing cracks in your foundation. Ready.gov also advises making a disaster preparedness plan to help keep you and your family safe if a flood occurs.

    Not sure what to include in your plan? Get step-by-step instructions in our guide to emergency preparedness.

    Foundation Damage

    A strong foundation doesn’t just keep your home structurally sound — it prevents water from seeping into your basement or crawlspace. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you can tell that your foundation or slab has deteriorated when water seeps inside after a storm. A coat of water sealant can help make your foundation waterproof again and prevent more water from entering your home.

    Help Prevent Damage With a Flood & Freeze Sensor

    No matter what you do to prevent flooding in your home, leaks can still happen — but with a Flood & Freeze Sensor from Ring, you can get notified immediately and take steps to minimize the damage. Flood & Freeze Sensors use two different sensors to detect leaks and temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and connect directly to your Ring Alarm security system. When a sensor gets triggered, it sounds the Base Station’s siren and sends a notification to your phone if you have a Ring Protect subscription, sold separately. Depending on what triggered the sensor, you can attempt to stop the leak, try and raise the temperature to prevent a burst pipe, or call a professional to help stop water damage in its tracks.

    You can place Flood & Freeze Sensors around your home in areas that are at risk of leaks or burst pipes, like below sinks and toilets and next to sump pumps, washing machines, and other appliances. That way, you can detect issues you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed, like a hidden leak behind a washing machine or a sump pump overflowing while you’re on vacation, and take action immediately.

    Don’t have a Ring Alarm yet? Explore our Alarm Kits to find the best setup for your home, and check out our Flood & Freeze Sensor to see how it seamlessly connects to Ring Alarm to help protect your home.

    Ring icon
    Contact Info
    Have a Story?

    If you have stories or videos you’d like to share with us, please send them to stories@ring.com.