In the US, water damage to homes and businesses costs $2.5 billion per year.
We’re all guilty of thinking it might not ever happen to us, but as the old saying goes – ‘prevention is better than a cure’. This goes for protecting your home against water damage too. Though if you’ve never had to deal with it, you might not know where to start or what the prevention methods are.
Don’t worry! Read on for our top 19 tips for protecting your home against foundation water damage and more.
Outside the Home
1. Make Sure You Have Proper Drainage
The first thing you should do to avoid water damage is to ensure you have proper drainage. After heavy downpours or long periods of rain, water can pool and seep into your home.
Water buildup can cause weaknesses to form in your foundations. Cracks can form in concrete, potentially impacting the structural integrity. It can also cause uneven foundation settling and pooling water can flow into your house.
2. Check Your Roof
It might be an obvious one but it’s worth mentioning. Your home sustains bombardment from the elements on a daily basis. Your roof is your main defense when it comes to keeping your home from damage. Over time though, this battering from mother nature might start to take its toll.
It’s advisable to get your ladder out and physically inspect the tiles and shingles for signs of wear or damage on a regular basis. Fix back down any loose tiles and replace any that have cracks or are missing. You should also keep on top of any moss, lichen or algae build-up to prevent further damage.
3. Check Your Gutters
Over time, gutters can fill with debris such as leaves. This can lead to clogging. It’s important that you clean your gutters on a regular basis to prevent clogging.
If your gutters clog, water can overflow and spill down your walls. If left unchecked, this will cause damage to your siding and your foundations. Make sure that water can flow unobstructed at least 5 feet away from your house downhill.
4. Purchase Gutter Guards
To prevent clogging, attach Gutter guards onto your gutters. It ensures that water coming from the roof flows away from your house, rather than pooling.
If you are getting consistent clogging of your gutters, then install a gutter guard. Not only will they help prevent clogging but you’ll be free of that messy (and smelly) job of cleaning them out all the time.
5. Keep Trees & Bushes in Check
We all know that a beautifully kept, manicured landscape will boost your home’s attractiveness. But when planning your garden, keep excessive landscaping away from pipework. And if any shrubs or trees in these areas become too large, it’s best to remove them before they do damage.
Some trees and plants, like silver maples or weeping willows, have extensive root systems. If you don’t keep a regular eye, they can grow right through your pipes, septic tanks, or sprinkler system.
Plan properly before planting your garden and also make sure you don’t plant roots near water lines. It’s a good idea to plant your trees at least 25 feet from your house if planting larger trees. Or opt for smaller trees with a less extensive root system with a smaller footprint.
6. Create a Gradient
Lay down some soil around your home and make a downward slope. It must go away from your home. It should be a least 8 inches and cover a span of 10 feet.
This artificial slope will cause any water to flow away from your foundations.
It’ll help prevent water from pooling right against your foundations. If this happens, the water can weaken your home’s structural integrity. Walls could start to lean, you might start seeing cracks in foundations or masonry. And it could create a way for water to start leaking into your home.
If your home has a crawl space, making sure to keep water away will prevent excess water from pooling under your floor. Water stagnating under your flooring creates a damp environment. This encourages the development of mold, mildew and can encourage insects.
7. Check Concrete for Cracks
Cracking in concrete is always going to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. If ignored, little cracks can spread and grow in size. This is an even larger problem in areas where water regularly freezes. Because water freezing and thawing expands and contracts, further weakening the concrete.
If you see cracking, make sure it isn’t a symptom of a larger issue. Like a problem with the weakening foundations of your house. For most cracks less than a quarter of an inch, you can apply concrete caulk to fix them.
For bigger cracks, you’ll need a concrete patch. Clean out the crack with a blast from a pressure washer and allow it to dry. Then lay down the caulk into the crack. It’s easy as anything when you know-how!
8. Inspect Irrigation Systems
It is important that you check on your irrigation systems and sprinklers on a regular basis to ensure they are in working order. Also make sure they aren’t placed too near your home, causing water to pool near your foundations or damaging the sidings of your house.
If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing take care of your irrigation systems. Make sure you turn them off and drain the faucets or hoses. If you don’t, water can freeze inside the pipes and cause bursting when you next try to turn it on.
Inside Your Home
1. Find Your Water Main
It’s surprising how many people don’t know the location of their water main. This information is vital in preventing your home from sustaining water damage.
Sometimes, there are events out of your control like natural disasters or burst pipes.
In these events, no matter how much preparation you’ve done, your home is still likely to get hit by water damage. But if you can shut off your water at the mains, this is how you’ll be able to minimize the damage and prevent any more from happening during that event.
2. Check Your Appliances on a Regular Basis
Maintain regular checks on your appliances. You want to look for any hidden water leaks or damage. Malfunctioning appliances can causes leaks and amount to a huge number of water damage claims each year.
3. Change Washing Machine Hoses
Out of the household appliances, washing machines are the worst culprits for leaks. To help prevent this, you should replace your washing machine hose every 5 years. If it isn’t already, consider a flood-safe hose option instead.
Signs of damage to the hose to look out for are if it is:
If you spot one or more of these issues, then you should replace your hose right away.
4. Check Your Air Conditioning Unit
A major source of water damage is your AC unit. AC units are often located in dark closets or areas of the house that aren’t frequented often. This means you’re not likely to check them often as they are out of sight and not on the mind.
Make sure you’re maintaining your AC unit properly, and that you inspect it often. Look for signs of water damage and leaks. Be more mindful in the summer when you’re using your AC the most.
5. Check Your Water Heater
You should check your water heater annually at least. Look for any rust, corrosion or any water pooling. If you do notice any of these issues than call out a professional to service your water heater as soon as they can.
Older units can get faulty drain valves and water outlets. It might be an idea to think about switching to a tankless or on-demand heater instead. This will also save money on your energy bills!
6. Check Your Attic
Your attic is another example of an area that people often fail to inspect. As most people don’t often go into the attic, signs of water damage often get missed until the damage has already been done. Water damage in your attic is particularly bad as it has the perfect conditions to encourage mold growth.
Water saturates the wood and insulation, allowing mold to grow and spread. So not only do you have water damage but a danger to your health now too. Another issue is that as your attic becomes saturated with water, your ceiling can’t take the extra weight. The structural integrity can fail and your ceiling could fall in.
7. Reseal Your Doors & Windows
To avoid water ingress into your home, check your windows, doors, and frames regularly. Rain and snow can easily get into your home if they’re damaged and the wind causes it to hit against your home.
Water ingress through windows and doors can damage frames, drywall and cause mold. You can fix it easily by applying caulk inside and outside of the window/door, and apply weather stripping to seal them. If you live in an area prone to storms, it may be worth installing storm windows for extra protection.
8. Inspect Showers, Tubs, & Toilets
Showers, toilets, and bathtubs carry water consistently. They’re designed to drain away water and keep it contained within the designated areas. But over time, they can wear and start to break. Keep an eye on their general condition and look for any leaks or cracks.
Also maintain your grouting when it starts to break or peel away. Where necessary, repair the caulk and re-grout as needed. This will help keep the water flowing over the tiles and not flowing underneath to damage your walls and floors.
9. Think Mechanical, Not Chemical
Even if you’re avoiding pouring things you shouldn’t down your drain, blockages will happen. In the past, you might have used strong chemical drain cleaners to clear it. While they are fast-working and convenient, they can cause damage.
The strong chemicals can eat through your pipes over time, which will eventually break and cause leaks. A drain snake is a better long-term solution and they’re cheap too. While they need a little more elbow grease, a drain snake will protect your pipes from damage.
10. Dispose Of Grease Properly
Whether it’s hot or cold, don’t pour grease into your kitchen sink. You won’t be able to flush it down. Grease can harden and will stick to your pipes. This can block water flow and cause severe (and costly) damage.
The safest way to dispose of grease is to pour it into an empty container and let it set. Or put it in to cool inside the refrigerator. As soon as it hardens up, you can throw it in your general rubbish.
11. Be Proactive
Whether you find your leak inside or out, you must act fast when you spot it. Any leaks left for a long time can cause mildew, mold and dry rot. It can also have an impact on the structure of your home if severe enough. If a substantial amount of water is found, consider emergency water removal.
Look for spots under the sink near the pipes, water stains and any active water dripping. By catching it early, you’ll be able to save your self a lot of heartache from serious issues. And many insurance policies do not cover leaks through a lack of maintenance.
Foundation Water Damage and More – It Doesn’t Have to Swamped
So there you have it! Now you know these 19 tips, you’ll be able to protect your home and prevent foundation water damage and more.
Water travels downwards. So, it’s important to note that any water damage, inside or out, if left unchecked can cause significant damage. Including damage to your foundations and the structure of your home. If you find any signs of water damage, it’s important you find the source and get it remedied immediately.
If you’ve suffered flood damage recently, or you’re looking for advice, contact us today. At Flood Contractors, we’re here to help with all your flooding and water damage needs.