Do you recall that cute rhyme from a famous children’s movie, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Well, readers, as we head into the cold, wet, snowy weather, my clients sing that rhyme as, “Water, water everywhere, my carpets stink everywhere!” Okay, that’s a little lame, but you get the idea.
Water intrusion into the home is a major complaint. While this condition isn’t necessarily “seasonal,” during wintertime it’s somewhat more apparent. Contrary to popular belief, homes are designed and built to prevent water from entering the interior of the structure. Thus, they are water-resistant, but not waterproof. Simply, that means building materials will repel the effects of water to a point. After a period of exposure, or a certain amount of pressure, water will soak the item, or seep through the materials. So, Jay, thank you for that science lesson, but what’s a homeowner’s solution? Fortunately, there are some easy fixes that you can carry out yourself or advice from a home inspector on whom to hire. That step won’t only prevent possible water damage, but will even add to the value of your home. So let’s look at some areas of the home that can assist a homeowner.
You’d think that the solid concrete foundations of your home a rock-solid, but cracks can develop and even though it might not seem so, concrete is porous - water can go right through it.
You can waterproof and damp-proof your basement, two different processes that should ideally be used together. According to building code, all you need is a dimpled membrane (waterproofs the subfloor) that stops groundwater from coming into contact with the walls and create space for the wall to “breathe.” However, adding full protection against both moisture and groundwater and filling in existing cracks with concrete sealant should protect you, with little upkeep in future.
This is your first line of protection against water damage, and unless you want to break out pots and pans to collect drips from the ceiling, you’ll need to get it perfect. Make sure that chimneys, skylights, and plumbing vents are properly sealed - and keep making sure, as they can crack over time. You’ll also need to check that shingles haven’t cracked and that your seals are sealed. In winter, you should make sure that ice dams aren’t forming on your roof; these are walls of ice and snow that collect at the edge of the surface of your roof which prevent snow from running off, trapping water and causing costly damage.
As with the foundation, following building codes won’t get you the complete protection you’ll need. The concrete that your walls are made from can be mixed with substances that will make it waterproof and the exterior walls can be wrapped in a plastic sheet- you’ve probably seen blue Tyvek and Typar wraps around new buildings. If you have an older building, you probably don’t have the same protection as a modern home. Knowing what the issues are will guide a homeowner as to whom to hire to fix the problem.
They’re no fun to clean, but your gutters and drains need to be kept free of obstructions or you risk them either breaking or your drains overflowing and creating a pool of standing water that can get into your walls or basement. You’ll also want to make sure that the metal gutters in older buildings aren’t corroded - if so, you might consider replacement.
Windows and Doors
Wooden door and window frames can swell in wet weather, and improperly-installed windows and doors can let in moisture. Sealing them can be as simple as applying silicone, or could involve getting new doors and windows. Modernizing these won’t just improve waterproofing, but improve your home’s aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Most homeowners, understandably, aren’t clear in determining problems with their properties. A licensed home inspector can assist in locating the problem and then guiding you as to which contractor is suited to repair the issues. This will save the homeowner money.
Well, homeowners, wishing all you a wonderful, easy week!