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Preventing Home Water Damage in the Summer

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

Though the “water damage season” actually runs throughout the entire year, certain times are more likely than others to present specific challenges. Summer, for example, has its own unique circumstances that may trigger water damage, most of which are related to outdoor weather. While you can’t do anything to control the weather, you may be able to take steps to prevent or reduce the ultimate outcome of weather-related water damage. Here are some typical sources of summer water damage and what can be done to best avoid it.

Severe Storms

Heat-triggered thunderstorms can dump several inches of rainfall in a short time on a hot, humid summer day. This abrupt transition from dry to deluge can inflict water damage in several ways:

  • Gutter overflows. Water spilling out of clogged gutters penetrates exterior walls as well as undermines the foundation and seeps into the basement. Inspect gutters and downspouts and keep them clear of debris. Make sure downspouts are long enough to discharge water at least three feet from the house.
  • Roof leakage. Saturated attic insulation and water dripping down through ceilings into living spaces during a summer storm is an untimely way to find out that your roof leaks. Experts recommend a professional roof inspection every three years for asphalt and wood-shingle roofs. You can do some DIY checking yourself by climbing into the attic and looking for signs of leakage such as dark streaks on the underside of sub-roofing.

Air Conditioner Issues

Keeping you cool on a hot summer day, a central A/C unit extracts gallons of water vapor from the air. If everything works right, it’s collected in the condensate drip pan, then conveyed down the drain line. If the drip pan or drain line is clogged, the pan overflows every time the system cycles on, potentially inflicting substantial water damage before it’s noticed. While the unit’s running, use a flashlight to inspect the drip pan under the air handler. It’s normal for it to be wet. However, if you see standing water, contact an HVAC service technician to troubleshoot the drain system.

Are Your Rain Gutters Ready for Spring?

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Just one inch of rain falling on the rooftop of an average 1,400 square foot house produces over 800 gallons of runoff. Where all that water ends up largely depends on your gutters. If they’re clogged, leaky or sagging, water cascading off the roof may penetrate the exterior siding and cause indoor water damage, undermine the foundation, or leak into the basement. To make sure your gutters are ready for spring and summer rain, here’s a primer on gutter maintenance.

If you’re not secure working on a ladder, for safety’s sake contact a professional gutter maintenance service to take on this job.

Gutter Cleaning

  • Put on gloves and remove larger loose debris stuck in the gutters such as twigs and leaves by hand.
  • If clogged gutters have retained stagnant water, you’ll usually find a layer of dirt, shingle particles and other smaller stuff accumulated in the lower portion of the gutter, underneath the larger debris. This can be scooped out using a trowel, putty knife or spoon.
  • Use a garden hose to flush out the cleaned segment of gutters.
  • Observe downspouts to verify free water flow. If downspouts are clogged, remove the nozzle from the hose, insert the hose into the bottom of the downspout and run it upwards to the roof with water running to flush out the clog.

Leaking End Caps

If water constantly leaks out the end of a gutter span, the end cap is defective. Remove the securing screw, pry off the old cap and take it to a home center to find a replacement. Remove any residue or debris on the end of the gutter. Fill the mating slot in the replacement cap with exterior silicone sealant and press the cap onto the end of the gutter. Install the screw to secure it.

Sagging Gutters

Replace failing attachments with new metal gutter hangers that extend around the exterior of the gutter and grip securely. Replace old brackets one at a time. Attach the new gutter hanger at a solid location on the fascia and secure with screws. Gutter hangers should be spaced three feet apart.

How Can Heavy Rains Damage My Home?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

heavy rainfallThe effect of rainfall on your house depends on two factors: volume and duration. Once precipitation exceeds 0.30 inches per hour, it’s officially classified as “heavy rain” by meteorologists. At that point, water damage to certain parts of the structure naturally becomes more likely, depending on the materials involved in construction, the location of the house and its general state of repair. Here are some of the potential problems specifically associated with heavy rainfall on your house.

Roof Leakage

Heavy rainfall typically reveals any weak spots in your roof. A storm that includes one-half inch of rain deposits at least 400 gallons of water on a residential roof of average size. Leakage into the attic triggering mold contamination and ruining attic insulation are obvious consequences. Warped or deteriorating wooden structural components in the attic are another. Roof leaks may be caused by split or missing shingles and/or by gaps around vent pipes, chimney, skylights and other protrusions.

Basement Flooding

Once the soil is saturated by heavy rain, the basement may be compromised. Hydrostatic pressure pushing inward forces soil water through cracks and gaps in the concrete basement wall and /or upward through the basement floor, flooding the basement. Mold growth as well as damaged electrical panels, appliances and personal possessions stored in the basement are likely.

Exterior Wall Damage

If gutters aren’t fully functional due to clogs or not sized correctly to handle heavy rain, overflow is inevitable. Water from overflowing gutters flows down exterior walls. Though exterior siding is designed to repel raindrops and splashes, a continuous cascade of water from gutters will penetrate siding, entering the void inside the exterior wall. This hidden moisture rots wooden structure and forms a perfect breeding ground for mold.

Landscape Issues

If the land surrounding the perimeter of the house isn’t graded so ground water flows away from the structure, deep pooling may occur during heavy rain. In slab construction, this water may undermine the foundation over time with multiple incidents of heavy rain. In other homes, repeated flooding of the crawl space is another likely result.

Why Having Clean, Well-maintained Rain Gutters is Critical for Your Home

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

rain gutter maintenanceJust one inch of rain deposits over 1,200 gallons of water on the roof of a typical single family home. Unleashed, this volume of water can be a destructive force. Intact and properly maintained, gutters function to capture and divert rainwater into a manageable flow. When your gutters can’t get the job done, however, these are some of the consequences you can expect:

  • Exterior wall damage. A clogged, overflowing gutter releases a cascade of water that penetrates behind adjacent siding. Water infiltrates the void inside the exterior wall and causes wood rot and mold growth.
  • Foundation issues. Water from overflowing gutters hammers the ground below around the perimeter of the house. Pounding water permeates deep into the soil, undermining the foundation and seeping into the basement. During winter conditions, water penetrating concrete pores can freeze and expand, causing structural cracks.
  • Landscape erosion. Roof water not contained by functional gutters and downspouts floods across the landscape of your yard, removing soil, uprooting shrubbery and plants and creating ruts and sinkholes.
  • Mounting damage. The weight of standing water inside clogged gutters can pull gutters away from mounting points and damage the wooden fascia where gutter brackets attach.

Keeping Gutters Flowing Free

  • Twice a year gutters should be inspected and cleaned to remove clogging debris. This may be hazardous for anyone not accustomed to working up on a ladder, so hire a service if you’re uncomfortable with the job.
  • During rain, visually check for leaks that may occur at seams between gutter segments. These can be repaired by commercially available gutter sealants applied to the interior of the gutter.
  • Make sure gutter brackets are firmly attached to the fascia and all mountings are intact.
  • Downspouts should extend at least three feet or more from the house to ensure that discharged water does not undermine the foundation or leak into the basement. Downspout extensions are available at home centers.
  • Cutting back overhanging limbs reduces the amount of gutter-clogging leaves that fall on the roof.

3 Tips for Fall Storm Preparation

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

fall storm damageWhile hurricane and tropical storm season officially commences in June, peak activity tends to occur later during the fall, beginning in late August and extending through October. This season is most likely to produce severe storms that bring the threat of potential property damage. The good news is, the usually predictable pattern provides a window of opportunity to prepare in advance. There’s no guarantee that a storm will strike, nor is there any assurance that you can prevent all damage if it does. Nevertheless, statistics show that a few preventive measures can help improve the odds. Here are three steps to take for fall storm preparation:

  • Protect the roof. During high winds associated with a storm, limbs close to the house that break can cause roof damage and water intrusion. Cut back nearby limbs to establish a clear zone on all sides of the house. Also, a falling tree weighs several tons and can inflict severe structural damage. Any dead or compromised trees on the property should be removed now, before a storm threatens.
  • Clean the gutters. Autumn leaves often clog gutters, causing torrential gutter overflow during heavy rain. The cascade of water down the side of the house penetrates siding and infiltrates the exterior wall causing water damage and triggering mold growth. Adding a flexible extension to gutter downspouts to discharge roof runoff at least six feet from the house also helps reduce the chance of basement water intrusion or foundation damage.
  • Prevent basement flooding. Excessive rain can quickly saturate soil surrounding the basement and leak in through cracks in foundation walls. Only a few inches of water in a basement can cause damage that exceeds $10,000. A sump pump installed in the basement floor actuates automatically to remove water before it accumulates. If a sump pump is already installed, test it now by pouring five gallons of water into the sump basin to verify that it pumps the basin out. Because power outages frequently accompany severe storms, consider adding a pump with backup battery feature to ensure that the unit activates when its needed most.

5 Easy Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

summer maintenanceSummer means recreational activities, backyard lounging on long, lazy days and—let’s face it—home maintenance.  Getting a few upkeep matters done this summer can help preserve your investment as well as prevent year-round issues like water damage, mold contamination and higher energy costs.

  • Maintain gutters. When clogged gutters overflow during heavy rain, water cascading down exterior siding seeps into the wall cavity, causing water damage and mold contamination.  Check the gutters and clear blockages. Make sure downspouts discharge far enough from the house so water doesn’t penetrate foundation or basement.
  • Check the A/C condensate drain. Your central air conditioner produces gallons of condensate daily. It collects in the condensate drip pan beneath the indoor air handler.  Check the pan for standing water that indicates a potential clog. To discourage algae growth that causes clogs and damaging condensate overflows, pour two cups of 50/50 mixture of water and bleach into the pan.
  • Inspect appliance water lines. They don’t get much attention yet are a potential source of water damage. Check  lines connected to appliances including the washer, dishwasher and refrigerator icemaker. Look for cracking, loose connection and other wear and tear. Replace now if necessary. Replace rubber washer hoses with braided stainless steel lines if they are five years old.
  • Evaluate insulation. Department of Energy recommendations for optimum attic insulation have probably been revised upward since your home was built. Measure depth of insulation in the attic and compare it to DOE specifications. If you need more, laying pre-cut fiberglass batts atop existing layers is a DIY project most homeowners can handle (during cool morning hours.)
  • Flush the water heater. Prevent corrosion that could cause tank rupture and indoor flooding. Turn off the heater and shut off cold water at the inlet valve on top. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom and extend it outdoors. Open the valve and allow the tank to fully drain while turning the inlet valve on and off several times for an agitating effect. Close the drain valve, open the inlet valve and re-light the heater per manufacturer’s instructions.

Options Homeowners Have to Prevent Water Intrusion in the Basement

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

As the lowest point in a residence, basements are natural destinations for water intrusion. Water may wind up in basements from above, gradually soaking through the basement walls or swamping the basement in heavy rains, or it may come from below in the form of rising ground water permeating the basement floor.

flooded basementA wet basement is ground zero for toxic mold growth, as well as a continuous source of moisture and humidity that deteriorates structural materials. It also makes the basement inhospitable for most family uses.

Minimize water intrusion by taking these steps:

Landscape Grading

Make sure the ground surrounding the home’s foundation slopes gently away from the house. When the landscape inclines toward the structure, rain water pools around the perimeter of the foundation, soaks down the exterior of the basement wall and penetrates the basement. Water may seep in through cracks, gaps in the mortar while chronic moisture permeates the concrete itself, causing “weeping” on the interior of the wall.

Maintain Gutters

Clogged, overflowing gutters deluge the outside perimeter of the home with water during heavy rain. Exterior walls aren’t designed to resist a direct cascade of water. Water seeping into walls during storms, or soaking into the soil surrounding the foundation inevitably flows downward into the basement. Check gutters for obstructions and clean them regularly. Installing gutter guards helps keep leaves and other debris out of gutters in between cleanings.

Install a Sump Pump

Installed in a basin in the basement floor, a sump pump safeguards against water intrusion 24/7, automatically activating to remove water as it enters from above or below. Because sump pumps operate only intermittently, make sure it’s checked out annually to verify proper operation.

For more on preventing water intrusion into your basement or remedying damage that occurs, contact Rytech Inc. 

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