No matter where you live in the United States, there are times when precipitation and flooding can overwhelm your home and cause damage. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk that you and your family will experience this. Here’s a list of four things you can do right away at relatively low cost to protect your home against water damage.
Trim Your Trees
Trees dripping on your roof can cause constant moisture, mold and moss. Their leaves, twigs and needles fill up your gutters and downspouts (see below), and if a major branch breaks off during a storm, it could puncture your roof.
Head this off at the pass by trimming your trees regularly. If it’s just a matter of a few branches, you may be able to do the job yourself with a pole lopper. However, if you have larger limbs hanging over your roof line, it’s best to call a professional arborist who can trim back branches without compromising the health of the tree. They have all the equipment to do the job for you, and you can wind up with a nice bundle of firewood for next season as a bonus.
Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
Leaves and detritus from your yard and your neighbors’ yards can wind up in your gutters and downspouts, rendering them incapable of carrying water away from your roof line and foundation. Make sure to give them a thorough cleaning every six months–more if you live in a highly forested area. If climbing ladders and walking on the roof isn’t your thing, hire a professional. After you clean out the gutters, think about adding protective screens over the top to keep out the worst blockages in the future.
Inspect Your Roof and Make Necessary Repairs
Once a year, or after particularly brutal storms, it’s a good idea to inspect your roof for damage and general wear and tear. Look for torn flashing around vents and chimneys, as well as mold, rot and loose ridge vents, shingles and tiles. Also look for cracks or divots if you’ve had large hail or hard objects hitting your roof. Again, if you’re not a fan of heights or you’re not sure what you’re looking for, call a professional roofing company to do the inspection for you.
While you’re at it, check the interior of your home as well. Look for stains or discoloration on the ceiling and upper walls, as well as moisture or drips in the attic. If you find any damage, make sure to have it repaired immediately, so little problems don’t turn into big ones.
Protect Your Basement and Foundation
Water usually enters homes two ways: through the roof and through the basement or foundation. Once you’ve checked your roof, it’s time to make sure the lower part of your house is just as waterproof. There are several things you can do to control the amount of water entering the bottom of your home:
- Make sure grading slopes away from the foundation at all locations and carries water away from the house. Re-grade or trench any areas that cause water to flow in the wrong direction.
- Install a sump pump in the basement, and make sure it works by testing it regularly.
- Keep your HVAC equipment, like your air conditioning unit, up on piles above the surface of the ground.
- Have a structural engineer inspect the integrity of your foundation and basement walls to make sure no water can leak in there.
Sometimes in spite of your best efforts, Mother Nature wins out, and your home sustains water damage. To prepare for this emergency, make sure your homeowners insurance is up to date to cover the loss of your structure and/or belongings. Always inquire about flood and wind damage, as these may be separate policies but ones you may need.