Rain, Rain, Go Away (from my house!)
The National Weather Service reports the RVA has received 40.82" of rain since January 1 - more than 58% above average. While this may be great for the growth of your garden and the mosquitoes in your back yard, all this rain may not be so good for your house. Are you seeing water in your attic? in your crawl space? or your basement? If you are, here are a few things you can do to combat mother nature and protect your Home.
Water in your Attic or Living Space?
There could be several sources of water infiltration - damaged shingles, worn vent pipe flashing, or failing flashing. While climbing on, walking on and getting off your roof present safety challenges, there are things you can do to assess the source from your attic and ground.
1) Check your plumbing vent pipes - while your shingles may have come with a lifetime warranty, it's possible other critical roofing components, such as your vent pipe flashing, did not. The rubber gasket can dry-rot leaving a straight shot of water into your attic and most likely the ceiling below.
Solutions to this pervasive problem include installing a butyl sealing collar or longer term solutions like installation a PermaBoot (http://www.permaboot.co/installation.html) or Ultimate Pipe Flashing (https://www.lifetimetool.com/roofing-products/.
2) Inspect your Roof for Damaged Shingles - Before calling a roofing professional for a thorough assessment, you can walk around your home and do a preliminary inspection. Are you missing any shingles or have any come loose? Have you had any limbs or hail fall on your roof and possibly puncture your shingles? If you answer yest to any of these questions, a call to your insurance company or a roofing professional is likely warranted.
3) Failing or Defective Flashings - Flashing, while not the most visible part of your roofing system, is critical to preventing water infiltration at your chimney, at your roof valleys, at your rakes and eaves, at your skylights and where your roof meets your house wall. If water is coming in at your skylight, down a house wall where the roof attaches above, or around your chimney, flashing is the down fall. Inspecting, sealing and possibly replacing these flashings may be required.
Water in your Crawl Space or Basement?
If you have water in your crawlspace or basement, it could be from the water falling from above (rain) or water rising from below (ground water/ water table).
Most homes today are equipped with one or more systems to handle rain water - gutter systems or french drains around the exterior of the house foundation.
1) Check to ensure your yard Slopes Away from your House - while this is a building code requirement for new homes today, older homes may not have a positive slope away from the foundation or you may have mulch beds or berms that are keeping water from draining away from the foundation.
2) Check your Gutter System - If you have gutters, check to make sure they are not clogged and are capturing water like they should, transferring the water into the downspouts and the downspouts extensions - above ground or below ground - to carry the water away from your foundation. If you don't have a gutter system, why don't you?
If you have gutter guards, with the heavy rains we have been having it is possible the guards may actually be keeping the water OUT of your gutters and not allowing the gutters to work the way they should. If this is the case for you and you want to keep gutter guards, there are other guard solutions that better allow the rain to flow into the gutters while keeping debris out.
3) Is your French Drain Draining - If you have a perimeter drain or "French drain" around your exterior foundation wall, check to make sure the pipes that carry the water away are not clogged or don't drain into a ditch, that, when filled with water, could actually bring water back to your foundation (Yes, we did see this this year).
The water beneath our feet can be easily forgotten by most of us. With the rain we have gotten in 2018, however, the water table has risen and these higher water table levels are impacting existing foundations and new foundations (we had to have a foundation engineered by a structural engineer due to high ground water issues this summer).
Depending upon the contour of the landscape around you, the result may be water in your crawlspace (Crawl spaces are similar to a basement but is vented to outside air. Some crawl spaces can be as tall as a basement, where others can be two feet tall or shorter, so that you have to crawl around)...maybe even a lot of water...Water can negatively impact the structural integrity of the foundation of your home, foster mold and mildew growth in your crawlspace, and, in the case of basements, damage your actual living spaces.
How can you tell if you have water/moisture in your crawl space?
Stains on your foundation wall
Mold on your foundation walls, floor framing or equipment in the crawl space
How can you reduce/ eliminate moisture in your crawl space? Water can be removed from the crawlspace using one of several solutions -
Pumping the water out - initial evacuation - to eliminate immediate standing water.
Install a foundation drain within the crawl space (passive)
Install a sump pump - ongoing water management - the pump will come when the water gets to a certain level and move the water outside of the foundation walls. There is an great overview of sump pumps HERE
Water presents many challenges to our homes from the roof to the foundation and the air and structure in-between. The critical first step is to identify the problem and then evaluate the appropriate solution(s). In many cases you will need the experience and expertise of a professional. NARI Central VA (National Association of Remodelers) and Home Builders Association of Richmond are great resources.
While we in the RVA and much of the East Coast are faced with the challenges of rain water and ground water, I pray for the families and firemen and women that are facing death and destruction from massive wildfires on the West Coast, and for much of the United States and the world dealing with record heat.