Protect Your House from Rain

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It may not seem like it when you’re hanging out inside as dry as a bone, but your house is actually quite vulnerable to water damage.  With spring approaching, many areas of the country will soon see an increased amount of rainfall, so it’s important to make sure your home is protected.

How To: (Note: the best time to check these spots is while it’s raining or directly afterwards, so you can see the problem areas in action)

  • Foundation: Do a loop around your property with your eyes on the foundation.  Be on the lookout for any cracks and holes.  Small cracks can be ignored, but larger ones should be repaired to prevent water from seeping into your house.
    • Cracks are common in the exterior of foundations, and small ones aren’t a problem.  However, it’s important to make sure little cracks aren’t growing, and to have big cracks checked by a professional.  Hairline cracks can be ignored.
    • Cracks that are about the width of 1-2 toothpicks don’t need to be dealt with either, but it’s a good idea to check them every few months and make sure they’re not expanding.
    • For cracks that are wider than ¼-inch, it’s best to contact a qualified expert to take a look and make any necessary repairs.  These may indicate an underlying structural problem in your foundation, so don’t ignore them.
  • Exterior Paint: Wet winters and heavy storms can be harmful to exterior paint.  Do another loop around your property, this time with your eyes on your exterior paint. Look for bubbling, peeling or cracking paint.  Touch up any problem areas you see as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your siding.
    • Clean any areas where you notice damage.  To do this, grab a paint scraper and remove paint that isn’t tightly adhered to the siding or trim.  Don’t be afraid of removing too much – if the paint is coming off easily with the scarper, then it isn’t protecting your house from water damage and other elements anymore.
    • When you’re done with the scraper, use your wire brush to remove any remaining paint flakes.  If your siding still has some dirt and grime on it, clean it with an old rag and warm water.  You want the surface to be as clean as possible before you do any touch ups.
    • If you have the original paint, great! But, there’s a chance the paint is faded and no longer matches.  Bring a chip to your local home improvement store to get it matched.  Buy the paint and a good exterior primer.
    • When applying the touch-up paint, make sure you spread a little bit of new paint around the area that is being retouched so that it blends with the rest of the exterior, usually best done with a brush.  Let your paint fully dry.  If the color is too light, try applying a second or even third coat.
  • Gutters: Dirt and debris can easily clog your gutters, causing rain water to backup in the gutters and damage your home.  A few of the costly problems clogged gutters can create are rotted boards and windowsills as well as water leakage into your foundation and basement.  Make sure to clear gutters of all leaves and other debris regularly so you’re safe the next time rain is in the forecast.
    • Remove all debris from gutter – get every leaf and twig with a gloved hand.  Go section-by-section, dump the debris you can reach in a bucket, and then move the ladder down.
    • After removing the debris, check for corrosion and any holes or dents.  Tip: if you find small holes, place a piece of painter’s tape by the hole so you can easily find it when you’re ready to repair.  If you’ve found small holes in your gutter, you can seal them with clear silicone sealant.
    • Gently run water through your gutter with a garden hose to ensure your gutter is draining well.  If water is standing still, increase the grade of your gutter to create and maintain a proper drain slope.  To do this, simply bend the hangers.  The gutter should ideally slope at least ¼-inch for every 5-10 feet of gutter.
    • If the downspout is clogged, work to loosen the debris from the bottom up to avoid further clogging the downspout.  Turn your water hose on high and run it up the spout from the bottom.  If this doesn’t work, try a plumber’s snake (again, from the bottom to the top).  If all else fails, remove the downspout and tackle the clog by hand.
  • Downspouts: Check your downspouts while it’s raining to see exactly where they’re dumping water. If water is pooling less than five feet away from your home, redirect it with gutter extensions to prevent water damage.  These can be found at your local hardware store for $10-$50 depending on their length.
  • Basement: Inspect your basement for any signs of water leakage on the walls and floor.  After a recent rain, check for wet spots in the carpet, especially in the corners of your basement.  Also, give your walls a sniff.  If you detect a musty smell, you may have mold or mildew behind your walls. If you suspect this to be serious problem, call a professional to inspect further.
  • Roof: Missing or worn-out roofing materials may allow water to seep into your home and damage your roofing structure.  Inspect your roof at least twice a year, and after any severe storms.  If you have an attic, you can look for signs of water penetration under the roof after it rains.  To do this, inspect the underside of the plywood beneath your roof for any watermarks or mold.
    • Take a walk around your home’s exterior and inspect the roof for signs of damage, sagging and aging.  Be sure to take notes of all suspicious findings.
      • Look for areas with moss, algae or heavy leaves.  Extreme accumulations of leaves or moss on your roof can lead to leaks.
      • Look for buckled spots; buckled shingles occur when hot air from an attic forces the shingles to buckle away from the house.  Buckled shingles cannot adequately protect a home from the weather, and they are also signs of inadequate roof ventilation.
      • Look for curling shingles; curled shingles occur when hot air from an attic forces the shingles to curl away from the home.  Curled shingles cannot adequately protect a home from the weather, and they are also signs of inadequate roof ventilation.
      • Look for missing, damaged and aging shingles.  Missing shingles expose your roof and home directly to inclement weather. In addition to being unsightly and unpleasant to look at, missing shingles is one of the leading causes of water damage in homes.
      • Take a look at gutters and roof overhangs; look for open joints and signs of rot.
      • Look for granule loss; granules add texture to your shingles, so look closely.  Are your shingles still textured?  Granule loss often occurs to shingles as they age or when they’ve been exposed to extreme weather.  When shingles begin to lose their granules, the roof becomes weaker and less capable of protecting the home.
    • If you do find any of the above issues, we recommend you hire a professional.  The risk of serious injury is too high for you to climb on the roof yourself, and the cost of fixing a small issue will be a lot less than an undetected problem or full roof replacement.

www.brightnest.com