Water is really the enemy of our homes here in Portland and Vancouver. Nothing does more damage to your home than water. As I look outside my window right now, I see nothing but clear skies without a rain cloud in sight, but we all know that before long, the rain will return. And, with the rain, our homes will take their normal beatings. Luckily your home is designed to withstand this beating and effectively reroute water off of the structure. If everything is working good, then you have nothing to worry about, but if their is a flaw in the design of your home, it can cost you big money. Here are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that water does not wreak havoc under your home.
#1- Check your crawl space
How often do you actually look in your crawl? Seriously?! About half of you just said that you “have never even seen your crawl space”. This is by far the most easy step that you can take that might save you thousands of dollars, but the majority of home owners never do it. Water can accumulate very slowly over time (and sometimes not so slowly), but by catching it early, it will not have time to do its destructive work. All you need to do is find the crawl space entry. Usually the access is in a closet under the stairs or in a bedroom. You will just need to open the hatch and shine a flashlight down there. It will be pretty obvious if you have a problem. Even if you do not find a water problem, you might find other issues that can save you money. Recently, we inspected a crawl space that had a main air duct disconnected. We were out there for something totally different and come to find out that the customer had always been paying outrageously high heating and cooling bills, but never thought to look under the house and check it out. This very simple fix saved her a ton of money!
While you are looking around, you might see other red flags. For example, many people have animals (like raccoons and other wildlife) living under their home and never even realize it. The point is, check your crawl space and you can save some money.
#2- Observe how water runs off your property
Take a look at how your property slopes and make sure water does not run towards your home. When I moved into my new home last August, I noticed that part of the property sloped towards a foundation vent screen. I didn’t need to wait until it rained to know that this was going to be a problem, so I installed a simple french drain to rectify the problem. You should look to see where water is going and how it is diverted. Also, make sure that your gutters are working properly and are draining the water away from the house. Most homes have an underground pipe that the gutters feed into that has a filter. Make sure that the filter is not clogged and you can avoid water from overflowing and flooding the system.
#3- Check for leaks
One of our customers had a steady leak in their plumbing under the sink that managed to do significant damage to her subfloor. Another had one of his sprinkler heads that was inadvertently pointed directly at one of his crawl space foundation vents and ruined much of the insulation in the surrounding area. Again, both of these things can only be discovered by checking out your crawl space, but think about all the possible ways that water can do damage to your home and periodically check those items.
If you are in an area that is prone to flooding or you have observed water marks in your crawl space that indicate that water has flooded the area in the past, you can be proactive about it. If it is likely that water may get into your crawl space again, you can install a sump pump and be ready for it. Basically, a sump pump is placed at the lowest point of the crawl space and when water drains and pools in that area, the pump diverts it out of the crawl space and off of the property.
If you happen to not catch these problems in time and just need help fixing it, we can certainly help you with it. If you have questions or comments about how to keep your home protected, please contact us and we would be pleased to help.