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DIY for June – No More Water Issues

PlumberWater, water everywhere it’s not supposed to be!

Perhaps the biggest threat to a home’s integrity is water where it doesn’t belong.  From roof to basement, the keys to staying dry and damage free are preventing exterior moister from seeping in, reducing interior moisture, and making sure all water conveyances remain leak free.

Water in the wrong places can cause wood rot (porches, eaves, soffits, floorboards, supports), water stains on ceilings and under cabinets, and mold. Damp wood invites termites and carpenter ants. Left unchecked or unnoticed (hidden), moisture can cause damage over time that can become a serious and expensive repair and even an unsafe situation. Keep an eye on your monthly water bill. A sudden or significant increase could indicate there is a leak somewhere.

Below are some tips for preventing the most common issues that can contribute to water damage. Additional detail can be found in this handy, printable brochure.

Roof

Your roof is your first line of defense. Inspect it annually for loose or damaged shingles and flashing around the chimney, vent pipes, skylights, and any other roof penetrations.  Check the condition of chimney caps and the brick mortar. Check inside the attic for signs of water damage.  Make any necessary repairs.

A clogged gutter can send water spilling into your home’s foundation, through the roof, or down to your basement.  Keep your gutters clear, repair them if they are sagging, and extend downspouts at least 10 feet away from your house.

Landscaping

Prevent water from backing into your home and basement by diverting it away. Grade the land away from your foundation to increase proper drainage. Trim back trees and bushes so that moisture can evaporate, rather than damage your siding or window trim.

Exterior

For windows and doors, repair or replace caulk, weather stripping, window glazing and seals, and door seals. Examine your exterior siding and replace any missing or damaged fasteners or screws. Repair or replace punctured or broken siding. Seal around protrusions such as faucets and furnace and water heater vents.

Interior

High humidity can cause condensation on surfaces due to insufficient venting. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside. Vent your clothes dryer to the outside. If you hang wet laundry in your basement, offset that by using a dehumidifier.

Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation and keep doors open between rooms. Open your drapes and window shades to let window condensation evaporate.

Plumbing

Flush your water heater tank to remove sediment at the bottom of the tank. A rusted bottom could lead to leaks or failure.

Caulk the tub surround and on the outside where the tub meets walls and floor. Always tuck in your shower curtain.

If your toilet rocks or there is water at its base, replace the wax ring.  Make sure the tank’s inner workings function and the flap seals.

Check faucets and under-cabinet plumbing for leaks and have them repaired.  Dark pots, stains, mold, calcifications, and spongy wood are some signs of leaks.

Don’t pour cooking grease down your sink.  It will solidify and clog your pipes, which could cause backups.  Best to pour your grease into an empty can and let it sit. Once it hardens you can toss it in the trash.

Know where the main water shutoffs are. Install water shutoff valves on water lines under sinks and toilets and water lines leading to outside faucets.  These will help you react quickly to a situation and isolate the shutoff rather than having to stop the flow to the entire house.

Appliances

Your appliances that use water can cause damage due to ruptured or leaky hoses or improper connections. Inspect condition of hoses and connections to your washing machine, refrigerator, and dishwasher.

In-window air conditioners are prone to condensation and drips.

Don’t run your appliances while you are away.