Water Is Not Your House's Friend!

I am a Boy Scout – so, I am prepared for the rain. I have a good rain suit, waterproof boots, waterproof equipment/tools, etc. However, having the right equipment does not make it any easier to work in the rain. Even though I may not like it, I can learn a LOT about a house in the rain. Other than people, water causes more problems to a house than any anything else. Your house is made of many materials that can decay and/or be damaged by water. Water is not your house’s friend! If you don’t manage the water at your house, it will cause problems. Houses are built to keep water out and to keep water away. You need to maintain your house so that it keeps the water out and away. There are many things that you can check yourself. Here is a beginning list. Once you do all of this, contact me and I will be glad to help you create a longer list! 1. Look through your attic for stains. Take a flashlight up there and scan through the attic looking for stains. Take a close look at roof penetrations such as plumbing vent pipes, exhaust pipes, bathroom fan pipes, etc. Turn the lights off and look for signs of light in the attic. Naturally, you will see light at the attic vents and you may see indirect light at the roof penetrations. But, make sure you do not have a beam of light coming it. If there is an HVAC unit or a water heater in the attic, look at the equipment and around the equipment for stains or signs of leaks. 2. Get a pair of binoculars and check out your roof. Stand at a distance and scan back and forth over your roof. Look for damaged/broken/missing shingles. Look at the roof penetrations for signs of problems. 3. Look around the exterior at the siding/trim for decay. Decayed wood can allow water infiltration, which will cause more decay. Water infiltration can cause damage to the structural components that you cannot see. If wood is cracked, it may not be decayed but it can be on the path to becoming decayed. Take a close look at areas where two types of materials touch each other such as siding and wood. Look for cracks/gaps in seams/junctions. [caption id="attachment_794" align="aligncenter" width="300"] A properly installed gutter and splash block diverts water away from a house.[/caption] 4. Walk around your house one day in the rain. It is not going to hurt you to get wet! Check to see how the water is running off the roof and out of the gutters/downspouts. Look at the water on the ground and make sure that it is draining away from the house. Water NEEDS to run AWAY from your house. [caption id="attachment_795" align="aligncenter" width="300"] A healthy, dry crawl space should not look like this![/caption] 5. Now, here is the hard part – GO IN YOUR CRAWL SPACE! I will tell you ahead of time – there are spiders in your crawl space. There may be other animals - so, be careful. Make a lot of noise – talk to yourself and bang on the wood components. Any animal that is in there will want to get away from you. If you run into an animal, LEAVE! There are many problems that can happen in your crawl space. Before you go in the crawl space, run water through every plumbing fixture, i.e. sinks, toilets, showers, clothes washer. Look around the crawl space for signs of water. Is there condensation on the HVAC air ducts/equipment or the floor structure? Is there water on the ground/plastic? Is the insulation hanging/dangling/drooping? Does it smell musty? [caption id="attachment_796" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Regularly inspecting your crawl space can help you spot leaking pipes before they have time to do serious damage.[/caption] 6. When you run water through the plumbing fixtures, look for leaks. Get into the cabinet under the sinks and look for any leaks. Look around/under the toilet. Look at the ceilings below the bathroom for stains. Make sure that you don’t have any leaks. This is a beginning list of things to check. But, this covers a lot of the items that can allow water into your house. Once you start looking at these items, you will learn what is normal and what is abnormal. It will get easier with practice. If you have questions, take a picture and send it to us. We will try to help you with it. If you are not comfortable doing these things, we can help you with that too! Go forth and check out your house.  

Eric Coates NC Licensed Home Inspector Detailed Home Inspections Inc. 919-608-3742

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