Water is essential for our personal health, but water leaks at home can cause costly damage. Use these tips to troubleshoot your house from top to bottom to prevent a budget-busting nightmare.
Your roof and adjoining structures
Regular annual roof inspection and maintenance are essential, as loose shingles or flashing can lead to leaks. Extreme weather can cause damage, and squirrels and raccoons can tear holes to get into your attic to nest.
Keep your gutters cleaned out. Clogged gutters don’t drain properly and thus overflow. This runoff can rot the fascia board upon which the gutter is mounted. The water also cascades down the sides of the house, which can cause the paint to peel and destabilize the foundation. Consider installing guards that keep gutters clear.
Make sure the downspouts that your gutters drain into don’t empty right next to your foundation. Use plastic downspout extensions to transport water five feet or more away from the house.
Windows and doors
Twice per year, inspect the outside caulking around windows and fill any gaps. Rain leaking into these gaps can rot the window frame and get into interior walls. Also, check the caulk around outside door frames and the weather stripping on the edges of exterior doors.
Leaks around the foundation
If heavy rain causes water to pool against the foundation, you have a grading problem. The soil and turf along the foundation should slope downward vertically six inches over a ten-foot distance out from the house so that water will drain away. If you have pooling water, bring in topsoil to build up this grade around your foundation.
If you have a basement or a crawl space foundation with a sump pump drainage system, check twice per year to make sure there is no debris in the sump pit. Test the pump, either by manually lifting the float valve to turn it on or by pouring a few gallons of water in the pit. Keep your owner’s manual, receipts and model number near the pump in the event of repairs. Better to find out about a problem by testing before a heavy rain rather than to learn about it during a flooding crisis.
Water damage inside your home
Periodically check inside cabinets under sinks for signs of leakage. Check for loose toilets and tighten them down to the floor if needed. Watch for wet Sheetrock on ceilings and walls, which may indicate a slow drip from a pipe inside. Look for signs of mold or discoloration on walls, ceilings, and basement surfaces. Address leaks immediately.
In winter, place thermal covers on outside faucets. If you live in an older home and subfreezing weather is predicted, drip a few faucets inside the house and open cabinet doors so that your home’s heating can keep plumbing from freezing.