Effective rainwater control can help you avoid costly home repairs.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE:  

In my experience, water is one of the most damage-inducing substances around your home (second only to fire), and is often the most preventable cause of damage.  You simply MUST make sure water is controlled on and around your home.  From roof to curb – GET THE WATER AWAY FROM YOUR HOME!

Note: this post includes numerous details that need to be covered about how to create and manage a properly operating Rainwater Control System (R.C.S.).  To help navigate a bit, and to allow you to read only the parts that really interest you, I’ve divided today’s post into three parts:  THE BOTTOM LINE, THE WHY,  and THE HOW.  If you’d like to get right to work – download a copy of this week’s  CHECK THIS!  list, and get to work!

 

THE WHY:

I’ve been in a lot of homes over the years (30+ years as an inspector, over 10,000 inspections).  I’ve witnessed the same story, far too often:  thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars of foundation repair – totally avoidable, with less than $100 worth of supplies, a bit of attention, and perhaps a bit of elbow grease.

This siding damage can be fairly simple to repair, if caught early.

This siding damage can be fairly simple to repair, if caught early.

After walking through these repairs with countless homeowners, and the associated pain the homeowners experienced, I’d say this is one the the leading reasons I felt called to create Home Intentional.  It bugs me to no end that so many home repairs and problems could be avoided with just a bit of time and attention.  But so many homeowners either don’t quite know what to do, or they have trouble finding the time (and money) to do the things they KNOW should be done!

The following are some of the more obvious problems with uncontrolled water around your home:

  • A leaky roof, and water dripping somewhere it really shouldn’t!
  • Damaged wall surfaces, flooring, and contents.  
  • Damage to exterior siding, window and door trim.
  • Broken or deteriorated driveway, sidewalk, patio.

But the not-so-obvious issues with improperly controlled water around your home lead to the really big problems, and expensive repairs.  Let’s take a look:

If the soil next to your home becomes saturated, the pressures exerted on the foundation can increase dramatically.  Regardless of your foundation type (basement, crawlspace, or slab) this pressure can cause real problems for your foundation, and your budget.

If this ground stays wet for any length of time, the extra pressure on the foundation can move walls inward, can damage or undermine the footings, and can heave the slab upward – significantly.  The real problem is:  we don’t see this movement.  It doesn’t occur quickly.  We often don’t notice it until a door sticks, or we find a window that won’t open, or spot a crack in the drywall.  By then, the damage may be done.

An umbrella may just be your most powerful tool for avoiding water damage to your home. (photo by Eva-Maria Vogtel)

 

THE HOW

So – let’s avoid some major repairs, and take a look at the details of maintaining your R.C.S.

Where do you start?  

With an umbrella.  Believe it or not…that’s your best tool.  On the next rainy day, get out there!  Wait until it has been raining for a while, but go out while it is raining – preferably raining hard.  Walk around your home.  Watch the water.

Make note of any of the following conditions – (take the Check This! list with you!)

 

Does water pour over the gutters, rather than running down cleanly? You likely have clogged or improperly installed gutters.

This gutter is sagging, which prevents water from draining fully to downspout.

This gutter is sagging, which prevents water from draining fully to downspout.

Does water collect right at the bottom of the downspout?  Perhaps a missing splash block or not enough extension of the downspout.

The lack of splash block or extension has created a real problem for this home!

The lack of splash block or extension has created a real problem for this home!

Even if you have extensions and/or splash blocks – they may need a bit of attention.

So close!

Some times the fix is simple, quick, and zero cost!

Does water collect and pool near your home?  Improper grading.

The flat conditions in this area may allow water to collect near the foundation.

The flat conditions in this area may allow water to collect near the foundation.

Does the water disappear below grade, and who knows WHERE it ends up?  Find it!

A hose and a lot of water on a dry day will help you find where the water daylights!

A hose and a lot of water on a dry day will help you find where an underground extension daylights.

 

Many of these concerns can be easily corrected.

Some might be more involved.

New gutters can be a real challenge to install correctly – I recommend hiring this work done by a specialist.

But often, a little attention to the details can go a LONG way.

 

The next big issue to contend with is: where does the water go, once hits the ground?  Improper grading can be a minor tweak, or an all weekend project.  You may need some friends and a number of pizzas to get this one done.  (It seems to me that food is the universal language of I need help.  “I’m moving, can you come help next Saturday… I’ll provide the donuts and pizza!”)

In the future, I’ll post an in-depth study of how to correct the grading around your home – but for now, a few tips:

1 – Don’t just add dirt near your home – you’ll likely end up with dirt on the siding, and this can lead to all kinds of problems.

2 – Improper grading correction often requires digging out soil away from the home, creating a swale (small ditch or drainage channel), and extending the swale far out into the yard.  The good news here is:  you may have a legit excuse to play with some fun power equipment.

 

Best back pain prevention device ever invented - IMO! (photo by TORO)

Best back pain prevention device ever invented – IMO! (photo by TORO)

 

3 – Use underground collection and draining solutions only as a last result.  Keep the water above grade, and let gravity do the work.  (french drains, area inlets, and perforated piping all work, but they can clog or collapse! Keep the solution simple.)

 

I could go on and on about the damage I have seen due to improperly controlled rainwater.  Perhaps it seems that I already have.  Let’s just wrap it up here, with one final thought.  This entire subject can be summarized by the following:

 

GET WATER FAR AWAY FROM YOUR HOME, AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!

 

I  encourage you to download the CHECK THIS! list for your Rainwater Control System, and get outside and take a look at where the water goes (or stays) around your home.  You can download the list HERE, or read through it below.

As always – thanks for reading!

Darren

 

Rainwater Control System – Items to review:

[  ] Roof – surface condition, drip edge, flashing, etc. (consider a review by your local expert)

[  ] Gutters – securely mounted, sloping towards downspout, no holes, not clogged w/ debris

[  ] Downspouts – securely mounted, no holes, draining onto splash block or extended

[  ] Splash-blocks/extensions – don’t let the water dig a hole – get it far away from foundation

[  ] Do the downspouts go underground? Use a hose and find where the water daylights

[  ] Drainage – away from home strongly, the first 10 ft. is critical – watch during next rain!

[  ] Window wells – covers intact, leaves and debris removed, etc.

[  ] Sump pump – discharge line, splash block under, runs well away from home?

[  ] View entire yard next rain – any locations collecting standing water?

[  ] Concrete surfaces – tilting away from home?  No large gaps to allow water through?

 

Darren Emery
 

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