Thanks for reading Inspector Mitch Blog Numero uno. Happy to be here!
Well, it looks like winter is finally releasing it's icy grip on the country. Spring may have finally sprung!
It's that wonderful time of year again when homeowners thoughts turn to:
- Is there water coming into my basement?
- Why does that door no longer open?
- Can I use my outdoor taps?
- Ahhhh! No more worries about ice damming!
- When do I get to mow my lawn?
Over the next few weeks, I'll tell you about some things you should check out around your home in the spring time. First up:
Now is the time of year to check out your homes water management system
How's the roof?
You might be able to see the roof from the street, you might be able to climb a ladder and look at it from the eaves. Only those with experience should try to walk on a roof of any pitch, and only using appropriate safety procedures. Can you see the flashing and seals around roof penetrations? Winter weather can play havoc with your roof. I've seen ice get in behind chimney flashing, or into a sewer stack flange and cause some real damage. If you have concerns, you should think about asking a professional to come take a look at your roof and make sure it's in good shape to keep the rain out over the summer. Even small leaks can cause problems if left too long.
Would you see this?
How are the gutters and downspouts?
Get those extensions draining the melt water from your roof at least 6' away from your home. Doing this helps to take the pressure off of your foundation. The weight of snow and ice can cause gutters to sag and not drain properly. Joints can open up over the winter. Now's a good time to make sure they are clean and draining properly, especially if you weren't able to get them clean in the fall. Remember those big storms last summer, where your gutters just barely kept up? We'll probably have more this summer.
How's the sump pit and pump?
Not every home has a sump pit and pump. Usually they are associated with weeping tile. The weeping tiles job is to collect water at the footing of the foundation and drain it away. If you have a sump pit and pump, now is a good time to make sure it's working well. Be sure to get the discharge hose, if your pump feeds to one, away from the home. Otherwise, you'll just create a recirculating mess! Check any fittings for damage and repair or replace them as required.
To check the pump, you can reach into the pit and pull the float up until the pump starts. Don't worry, the water in the sump is just ground water, not sewer water! If it's too far down, or you don't want to get wet, you could use the hook end of a coat hanger to grab on to the float and pull it up. Listen to the motor for any grinding, squeaking or squealing noises. According to InterNACHI, the largest association of Home Inspectors in North America, sump pumps last an average of 7 years, depending on quality and how much use they get. If yours is getting old, you might think about replacing it.
While you're there, you should consider installing a high water alarm. These inexpensive alarms, available at most home improvement centres, are simple to install, and will warn you if your sump pit is filling up too much, perhaps because your pump has failed, or the discharge line is plugged. Sump pits and their pumps often gets neglected, but are critical to keeping water from causing a problem inside your home.
See above diagram for proper install and drainage.
How's your grading?
Now's the time, with lots of potential for standing water on your lot, to check out the drainage in your yard. CMHC recommends at least 6" of slope 10' out from your house. Does your yard measure up? If not, you should think about how to correct the issue, and the sooner the better! That way any grass or flowers you plant in the new landscaping will have a good chance to get well established before the next winter.
Most issues involving water in basements can be mitigated by correcting the things mentioned above. If you are still experiencing water infiltration issues in your home, there are bigger things afoot. I'll talk about some of those things in a later post. You might need to have a professional come in and do some investigating.
For now, check out the things you can, and make sure your home is ready for summer.
If you notice something that causes you concern and would like to consult an experienced professional , give me a call at Waldon Works Inspection Services. I'd be happy to come out, do an inspection or consultation, and leave you with a prioritized maintenance list. Many of my customers have found it very helpful learning what they should be concerned about, and what things they shouldn't be.
An ounce of maintenance now is worth a pound of bar-be-qued chicken wings this summer!