After last year’s winter I am ready to spend some time and money in the next month or two getting my house fully prepared for what may come.
Can you put out a list of things that you recommend, both inside and out, that could help prevent any water intrusion issues in the event we get heavy rains like we did last winter?
I know you’ve gone over this before but I need a refresher and can’t find your previous article.
Thank you for your willingness to share all of your experience and expertise with us readers, it is a huge help to this community.
Many of my friends read your article too, and you and your article become the topic of conversation at our gatherings, occasionally. Good work, thank you.
Great question, and thank you for your compliments.
I never have a problem revisiting questions, especially of this type and the perfect time at which it comes when there is still time to do preventative maintenance before we receive significant weather.
I would absolutely start at the top, making sure that your roof has seen recent maintenance.
Of course, begin with safety and follow all safety guidelines when accessing. Be sure that the roof valley flashing (the area where two different roofs meet, it is typically a 12” wide metal detail that sits atop roofing paper).
If this flashing gets obstructed with debris it will cause a dam effect, allowing water to rise over the paper and into your home. This and all other roofing areas should be clear of debris.
Be sure to use roofing mastic, also called Henry’s 208, which you can purchase at the big box stores. While you’re there, get a spray paint that matches the color of your roof so after you apply the mastic then you can cover it with matching paint for aesthetic purposes.
Seal any areas where there is previously cracked mastic; anything that looks like it may be a potential area that water may get into your home.
Look for loose or slipped tiles, reset them and secure properly.
Check the chimney cap and be sure that it is in good shape and secured in place. If necessary, secure it properly and check all seams at this area of the roofline; be sure that the flashings are all intact and with no gaps.
Remember any past penetrations of the roof, check each one thoroughly and apply mastic to any areas that may be in need.
This should set you up from the top, with a good water tight area.
Now move on to the gutters and downspouts. It is vital to pay attention to these, and always include the downspouts. Clean out the debris from the gutters, flush then with water, and be sure to flush out the downspouts.
Not only can debris end up clogged in these, but small animals/rodents have been known to make homes in these. All you need is for the water to flow from the gutters to a downspout that is clogged, back up onto your roof, and ultimately back into your home.
It only takes one small penetration that could have been missed during maintenance, to be the source of water intrusion. Keeping the water flowing down and out will be a great deterrent of this issue.
If you find any areas that are broken on your gutter or downspout, you can replace these areas or call in assistance, but definitely consider this a priority, prior to the rains.
Next I’d check the seals around your windows, also. If you didn’t have water intrusion through these areas during the last rains you’re probably OK, but it’s worth a check.
Look for any cracks or gaps, and if you find any, you can do a water test to see if any water is making its way into your home. If you confirm this, then I would have a pro come in and tend to this area right away, before a big issue happens.
One window service call is nothing compared to the amount it can cost to remediate and repair water damaged areas inside a home.
Check all of your area drains to make sure they are clear and flowing properly and continuously. Check to be sure that no debris traps your drain covers.
This can be the sole source of flooding into a home. People forget to clean up the debris that may cause the drain cover to be clogged, therefore creating swimming pools in their yards.
Be sure that all water has the ability to flow away from your home and that there are no low areas near your foundation where water can pool and ultimately find its way over the sill plate on your home.
I see this often, especially with planters that are built next to the house, and people forget about drainage.
Water will find the path of least resistance and make its way into your home, so be sure there is a way for it to flow away.
The final item I’ll suggest for outside is proper tree trimming. We often neglect this simply because we don’t think of it.
The heavy winds that Santa Clarita experiences often causes major damage to property because trees are heavy and untrimmed, therefore have much foliage that ends up breaking and falling.
I can’t express enough, to hire a licensed tree trimmer who is knowledgeable in the proper methods of tree trimming. If trees are trimmed improperly, they can be just as dangerous as a non-trimmed tree, because their integrity can be compromised.
Now let’s move to the inside of your home: Be sure that your furnace or air handler has been serviced and is in good working order, so that you don’t have any down time once the temps drop.
Of course there are the winds, so for anything that you won’t be using, it’s best to secure it for the season. I’ve seen backyard umbrellas travel to another street, in heavy winds. Much damage can be done in the process, and you’d be responsible.
Having your chimney and fireplace checked by a professional every few years is important. They have equipment that they use to scope inside these areas, so that you are aware of any damage that could cause the fire to enter into your home.
Not maintaining these areas has been the source of injury and death, many people overlook this but it is a very important part of safety and maintenance.
I am happy to answer all questions from all readers that may arise from this particular one. Last year’s rains caused havoc with many folks that weren’t adequately prepared, hopefully this and any further questions that I can help with, will help everyone to be ready. Good luck to you.
Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.