Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Protect your Home from El Nino

Some tips to prevent or reduce water intrusion

As of this writing, the odds of an El Nino condition stand at 80%.  That being the case, we can be pretty certain of a wetter fall and winter.  There are certain conditions, including a warming of surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean that cause disruptions of normal weather patterns of land masses that border the Pacific Ocean.  It can mean lower than normal rainfall on the Asian side of the Pacific and higher than normal rainfall on the American side.  What it generally means for Southern California is a deluge from the sky that can result in flooding in some locations and other challenges related to rainstorms that may be more frequent and more violent than normally experienced.

There are preventative actions that can be taken now to reduce adverse effects to your home during El Nino.  These effects have to do with water intruding inside your building envelope.  One of the most disagreeable results of this can be mold growth on building materials that have become wet.  Walls and ceilings are the most likely locations that become victims of water intrusion and subsequent mold growth.

Perform an overall critical inspection of your home’s exterior. 

Is the yard properly sloped away from the house so that water is not likely to pond at any exterior walls?  Ensure the soil surface is not above the slab.  If you don’t have gutters, the slope of the landscape away from the house is even more important.

Gutters with proper downspouts can divert water from the roof away from the house.  If you don’t have gutters, it would likely be a good investment to install them.  Make sure gutters are cleaned of debris and water flows freely to the downspouts.  Downspouts, if they don’t exhaust to a drain taking water to the street or a storm drain, should be extended at least six feet from the house.

Check for cracks and holes in exterior walls.  Any penetrations for wires, cables, pipes, etc. should be checked for integrity.  Seal or reseal these areas to help prevent water leaks.

Check your roof for potential leaks especially around roof penetrations for ducts, vents, chimneys, etc.  Vents should have proper hoods that prevent water intrusion but allow proper venting.

Check for leaks around doors and windows.  Small leaks now can become big leaks with heavy rainfall.  Peeling or bubbled paint, stains or discoloration are clues that should be followed up on.

A rubber seal around a door frame will help prevent water intrusion from driving rain when the door is closed.
Ensure trees are trimmed, especially those with branches close to the house.  Trees and other plants should be far enough away from the house so that roots will not damage foundation or slab.

If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working properly and have battery backup for times when the power goes out.

If you have balconies, check them for proper and complete drainage and check the slope to make sure water does not flow back into the house.

Have sand bags ready to combat flooding as the water rises.

Any water that breaches the building envelope must be dealt with swiftly.  Dry out building materials using wet/dry vacuums as needed and dehumidifiers.  Professional water intrusion businesses are recommended if you feel unequal to the task.  Keep in mind that during times of widespread flooding, their availability could be problematic.  After any substantial water intrusion, inspection by a professional mold consultant is a prudent action.

For more tips on improving indoor air quality, see my articles at www.machadoair.blogspot.com.


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