How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

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Our homes are our castles—they protect us from invading armies and from angry dragons. The last thing we want is for the moat to break and our castles to become full of water, damaging everything inside as well as the structure itself. Here are some things we can do to prevent water damage in our homes in the upcoming months.

Cold Weather Preparedness

As the temperature drops to freezing levels, any water left inside your outdoor pipes freeze and expand, and can burst your pipes. As the time comes to finish up with your gardens and yard work, you’ll need to blow out your pipes to get the last remaining water out of them. You can hire someone to do this for you, or rent the equipment and do it yourself. Your pipes will thank you come spring.

Condensation enjoys forming around windows and doors in the fall and spring seasons when temperature and humidity levels are fluctuating, and can cause damage to your sills and frames.  You’ll need to make sure the seals around your windows and doors are in good shape, and control the humidity in your home by using fans and vents in the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms. Be sure the vents in your attic, basements or crawlspaces are open and working, and think about airing out your home a few minutes a day.

Mold Prevention

No one likes to walk into a room and see mold along the ceiling and walls! Mold forms because of excessive moisture in the air, and is indeed a form of water damage. The most common place to find mold is in the bathroom, but can form anywhere there is poor ventilation, including crawlspaces.

Use vents and exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens and, when possible, open windows to let the moisture out and use fans to increase the ventilation. Mold loves slow leaks, standing water, and constant dampness in carpets. Placing a plastic tarp or cover over the dirt in your crawlspace will help moisture from coming up from the ground and affecting your home as well.

Travel Protection

The holiday season is coming up quick! Keep your castle safe while visiting friends and family by making sure doors, windows, vents, and skylights are closed and locked to keep out any wind, rain, or snow. Turn down your thermostat to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit instead of turning it off to keep the air circulating. Don’t leave the washer, dishwasher, or toilets running, and make sure they stop before you leave. If you will be gone for a lengthy amount of time, shut off your water heater and water softener, and close valves to individual appliances like the washing machine, toilets, and sinks.

Roof Precautions

Your roof is your first defense against the outside elements, and so it needs to be in great shape. Repair or replace any damaged shingles, and check seals around vents and chimneys. Soft spots or sagging in areas of your roof is a sign of serious damage and calling a professional roofer is your best course of action.

Ice dams form when snow and ice start melting off the roof, but then refreeze at the edge causing a blockage for any other water trying to drip off the roof. It backs water up, causing it to get under the shingles and trigger leaks. Find out what could be causing the snow to melt. It could be heat escaping from the roof vents, and if so all they need is a new seal or vent cover. Make sure your gutters are clear, and check the insulation in your attic to see if heat is escaping from your home. If there is a heavy snowfall, clear the snow (carefully!) from the bottom few feet of your roof. You can also install a heating cable to help prevent ice dams. If an ice dam is forming, do not clear it yourself unless you really know what you are doing. Call a professional.

Perpetual Maintenance 

The best way to prevent water damage is to do regular maintenance on your home. Take care of leaks and clogs as soon as you notice them, and avoid putting anything down drains that does not belong, such as grease, oil, fats, food items, etc. Invest in a drain strainer to keep things from accidentally falling into drains, and a drain snake for when the strainer misses something.

Routinely take a look at your roof, especially after storms or high winds. Check your crawlspace to be sure water is not leaking in. If the ground outside next to your foundation slopes slightly away from your house, it will help prevent water running in.

Watch for leaking or corrosion around your appliances, like washer hookups and your water heater piping. Do not forget the water and sewer lines running away from your home as well.  Roots are a common danger to those outside lines, but you can hire a plumber to do a quick drain inspection to make sure all is well.

 

Remember that water can quickly cause damages and any problems noticed need to be taken care of as soon as possible to keep your castle fit for a king.