How to Keep Rain from Ruining your Home

Water Damage | Adding plastic sheeting to crawl space.

How to Keep Rain from Ruining your Home

So much rain fell in north Georgia, with more in the forecast. That rainfall could spell trouble for your home if that water makes its way inside.

Take the time to check your home to make sure the rain stays outside. Find those hidden leaks that can cause major damage over time. Any Atlanta real estate inspection professional you speak to can tell you the prominence water damage and leaks take in metro Atlanta property inspections.

In the Attic

Just because you don’t see stains on your ceilings doesn’t mean you don’t have any leaks. It might be falling between walls or still be such a slow leak it doesn’t yet stain interior ceilings or walls.

How to check your attic:

Be careful if the attic lacks flooring. Walking across the ceiling joists is dangerous. Slipping can send you falling through the ceiling. Your limbs may get caught up in the joists as you fall, creating even more injuries. Bring a wide board or piece of plywood for a place to stand.

Shine a bright flashlight on the underside of the roof. Check out the roof sheathing. Pay special attention to anywhere something goes through the roof, like dryer vents, skylights, and chimneys.

Also, examine roof valleys and overhangs. If leaves and branches collected in gutters, that can result in roof leaks.

As you check out the roof sheathing, also look for dark spots. If you can safely get near those spots, feel them to determine if they are wet.

You’ve spent all this time looking up. Now it’s time to look down. Since some leaks seem invisible – or they only appear while it’s raining – you need to look down on the attic floor and insulation. Wet spots and stains reveal you have a leak. The leak might not originate directly above this spot, but at least you’ve found evidence before much damage to your house.

Take a few photos of any stain or wet spots you see. Now call a roofing contractor to make repairs. We don’t recommend that you try to make repairs yourself. Though if it’s an active leak, you should put a bucket or plastic bin underneath to prevent additional damage. Just make sure it’s supported by the joists.

The photos will help in explaining to a roofing contractor what kind of problem you’ve spotted and where it is. This gives the contractor evidence that you have a problem. The entire roof will get examined.

Water in the Basement

Basements always seem damp, especially if they are unfinished. Many homeowners put dehumidifiers in their basement to reduce the moisture in the air. But a dehumidifier can’t fix a problem caused by leaks.

Like the attic, use your bright flashlight as you walk around the perimeter of your basement for evidence of water on the floor.

If you find water, you’ll need to figure out the cause. You might have a plumbing leak instead of water coming from the outside.

Take a second trip around the basement but this time look at the foundation walls. Small bits of moisture can seep through the blocks of the foundation walls. The water carries some of the minerals from the concrete blocks with it. Once the water dries, it leaves these minerals on the inside of the walls. These look like white chalk and are called efflorescence. Seeing this without water still means you have an excessive amount of water on the outside of the home’s foundation.

Over time, this seepage can get worse. This results in water damage, water entry or cracks in the foundation walls. Efflorescence typically occurs around cracks on concrete foundations.

Crawl Spaces

If you have a crawl space instead of a basement, you’ll need to check this out. It’s not fun, and only the extreme heat of summer makes heading into the attic worse.

Crawl spaces can be nasty, with things like rodent droppings and mold – not to mention insects. Wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, a hat, boots, and a good respirator to filter the air. Examine the crawl space like you would your basement, searching for water and efflorescence.

If you don’t want to crawl under the house, at least peek inside at the entrance for obvious signs of a problem. Take photos with your smartphone to examine closer later. But you’ll need to get somebody down there to check things out. That’s especially if the crawl space lacks a vapor barrier.

A wet crawl space invites mold growth, wood rot, and termites. None of those help with your home’s value and make it undesirable for your family, too.

Follow these tips to help stop water damage also water from flowing into your basement or crawl space:

Clean out your gutters and downspouts. A large amount of water comes off your roof every time it rains. If the water can’t flow out the downspout, it overflows onto the home’s walls and makes it to the foundation. Clear out the area around the downspout. It should extend at least 4 feet from the house, and preferably 6 feet. Over time leaves, small branches and other debris can combine with dirt and grass to create a damming effect that prevents the water’s flow away from your foundation. Quick work with a rake and possibly a shovel takes care of this.

Ground Slope Sends Water Damage Away

The water won’t flow if the ground fails to slope away from the house. If the ground is flat or slopes toward the house, you’re just sending the rainwater to foundation walls. Fixing this might require a waterproofing contractor. Just piling up dirt next to the house and spreading grass seed really won’t fix things.

No matter what help you need to get, make sure the contractor’s references check out, they are insured and licensed for business.

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