April showers brings May flowers is a proverb that has stuck with me since I was a little kid. In our region April tends to give way to rainy weather. With this rain come lush growth of greenery and flowers. I am always amazed at how vibrant the landscape becomes as opposed to the gray dreary winter months. Unfortunately, these heavy rains also provide the proper conditions for water intrusion and microbial growth.
The past two years brought record amounts of precipitation. This year’s precipitation has been above average each month to date. With these large amounts of precipitation bombarding our region each year, it is imperative that both building owners and occupants take the necessary steps to avoid water intrusion and moisture issues. With spring here and everyone at home there is not better time than now to be proactive and address any potential water issues before they become a problem. The main area to focus on when addressing water issues is on the outside of the structure.
Its important to start by addressing all potential issues on the outside of the structure. If you can eliminate issues starting on the outside the structure you are less likely to have to deal with any interior water issues. The main areas I focus on are gutters, downspouts and grading around the home. These three features are specifically designed to move moisture away from your home. When these three features are set up incorrectly or poorly maintained they tend to be the major contributing factors to water intrusion.
First check you gutters to make sure all debris (leaves, sticks, dead animals, etc) are removed. Cleaning gutters often requires a ladder and can be dangerous work. If you are not comfortable cleaning the gutters yourself, you can always hire a local handyman. If you live in an area where there are a lot of trees and your gutters get filled with leaves quickly, you can install a screen or gutter guard system. You also want to ensure the gutters are properly hung. This means they are flush with the roof and tilted toward a downspout. I have seen numerous homes where gutters are sloped the opposite direction of the downspout or have pulled away from the house. Almost every time I see these issues, I find water in the basement of the structure. The last area that needs looked at on the gutters are the seams. You want to ensure the gutters are sealed well and no water is leaking or dripping out of them at the seams.
Once you know the gutters are clean its now time to address the downspouts. Pay attention during hard rains and ensure water is exiting your downspouts. Some downspouts going underground and exit into the street or into an exterior drainage system. The underground pipes can crack, or tree roots can damage the pipes. If the underground pipes become damaged the water can leach out and start to saturate the ground. When this happens water can start to wick into your foundation walls. If you are concerned you are experiencing this issue contact a local plumbing company and they can snake a camera through the downspout to ensure it is free of debris and not compromised.
The last area on the exterior of the structure that I focus on is the grading. Take a lap around your home and inspect the entire perimeter. Is the ground sloping away from your house? Are the grassy areas, mulch, landscaping, cement pavers, sidewalk and driveway all directing water away from your house? If not, water will pond or sit against your foundation wall and eventually work its way into your home. Water take the path of least resistance. Adding landscaping around your home can help with water mitigation as well. Plants and shrubs utilize moisture in the ground. If you do not have the ability or time to properly landscape around your home, consider hiring a reputable professional in your area. Also make sure all window wells are covered to divert water away. The last area I look at on the exterior of a home are any spigots. These can leak over time and expose your foundation to a large amount of moisture.
While there are many different tactics you can you use to prevent water intrusion, like all things in life its best to start with the basics. Each spring make sure to thoroughly check your gutters, downspouts and the grading around your home or business. These simple checkpoints can help you avoid most water intrusion issues. By doing this you are setting yourself up for a dry structure and avoiding potentially large remediation projects or water loses. You are a product of your environment so make sure it’s a dry, clean and healthy one!