How To Protect Your Home From Heavy Rain
Especially after the wicked weather we have had in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley this last few weeks. A common question we get asked at Murrayville Plumbing & Heating Ltd. is how to protect your home from heavy rain. Powerful spring & winter storms can dump inches – or even feet – of rain that can overwhelm your home’s gutters and downspouts and saturate the soil around your foundation. Even if your house is properly waterproofed, hard-driving rain can seep through windows, doors, and attic vents.
And potential water intrusion to your home can become a big (and expensive) problem if you don’t remedy it right away. Here’s how to conduct a thorough post-storm inspection to identify and clean up any water before it becomes an issue.
1. Start in the Basement:
The first thing you should do after a serious downpour is check your basement (or crawlspace) for standing water. Sustained heavy rain can turn your yard into a swamp, and excess water will infiltrate any cracks or weak points in your home’s foundation. Even if you have a sump pump, it can fail, allowing rising groundwater to seep into the basement.
While a flooded basement is definitely a problem, a sewage backup is an emergency. Sewage backups are caused when storm water overwhelms the sewer lines, which then can back up through basement drains and fixtures.
If you think the water in your basement contains sewage (the smell is a dead giveaway) call a water mitigation professional immediately to clean it up. Raw sewage is full of bacteria, viruses and microorganisms that can cause all types of health problems, including skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues, and even dysentery. It’s important that any sewage be cleaned up properly and immediately to avoid these risks to you and your family.
Even if the water is just rain, you must get it dried up as quickly as possible.
- If the water is draining slowly, use buckets or a portable pump to get it out faster.
- Go after remaining puddles with a wet/dry vac.
- Open any doors and windows to increase ventilation, and run fans to circulate fresh air.
If you have a dehumidifier, set it on its most powerful setting and let it run.
2. Check Carpets, Rugs and Wood Floors:
If rainwater pushed through open or unsealed windows, or pooled under a doorway and onto your carpets, rugs, and hardwood floors, you need to dry those areas as quickly as possible. Mold loves wet fibers and will start to grow on or underneath a damp carpet within 24 to 48 hours, so immediate attention is critical.
First, remove any rain-soaked area rugs and either wash and dry them yourself, or have them professionally cleaned. If a section of wall-to-wall carpet is soaked through, pull up the affected area so there’s no contact between the wet fibers and the floor. Remove and replace any wet padding underneath and use a wet/dry vac and fans to dry the carpet as much as possible.
Solid hardwood floors soak up moisture like a sponge. If wood panels absorb too much water, they will warp by bulging in the middle or “cupping” at the edges. While some panels will recover over time, others will have to be refinished or replaced. Follow these steps to dry them out fast:
- Sop up standing water with mops and towels.
- Open doors and windows to create cross-ventilation.
- Direct as many fans as possible on the affected areas.
- If you have a dehumidifier, set it on its most powerful setting and let it run.
3. Inspect the Attic:
Even the strongest roof can be compromised by a heavy spring storm. Shearing winds can rip off shingles, sideways-blowing rain can pass right through ventilation panels, and falling tree limbs can cause serious structural damage. So the next step in your post-storm inspection should be a trip to the attic.
In an unfinished attic, the biggest issue is wet insulation. It will soak up and hold moisture, creating an ideal breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Wet insulation resting against a wood subfloor can also lead to rot.
If you find a section of wet insulation, pull it out immediately and run a fan and dehumidifier in the affected area before laying down a replacement section.
Finished attics will have the same carpeting, rug, and flooring issues as the rest of the house. Make sure you remove every wet item and dry all wood flooring as thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
4. Examine the Walls:
The floor is the easiest place to spot leaks and puddles, but walls can also sustain water damage in a severe storm. Standing water poses the biggest threat to walls. A flooded basement, if not drained quickly, will soak the bottom few inches of drywall and plaster, which are difficult materials to dry. In that case, the damaged sections will need to be removed and replaced.
Other walls in your home can sustain storm water damage, especially sections below leaky windows that are repeatedly exposed to moisture. Look for wall surfaces that exhibit signs of water damage, such as:
- Stains or discoloring.
- Bubbling paint.
- Peeling wallpaper.
Call in a professional to identify the source of the leak, then remove and replace any damaged sections of drywall or plaster. Also, pay attention to the insulation inside the wall cavity. If it gets wet, it should also be removed and replaced, but dry out the cavity as much as possible with fans first.
5. Double Check Gutters and Downspouts
One of the most common sources of water damage is rainwater that pools around the foundation of a home. Over time, that water can seep into the poured concrete and form cracks and weak points that let even more water pass through. Properly functioning gutters and downspouts are your best protection against such damage.
Most homeowners typically conduct biannual inspections of their gutters and downspouts in the spring and fall to make sure they’re not clogged with leaves and other debris. But after a big storm with high winds, it’s worth giving them a second look.
Here’s what to look for in a gutter and downspout inspection:
- Excess leaves, twigs, and other debris should be removed from the gutters.
- Make sure that the openings to all downspouts are clear.
- Use a garden hose to check that water flows easily.
If necessary, extend downspouts so they empty at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation.
You can’t control the weather and the wrath Mother Nature might bring, but you can control how your home is affected. All you have to do is take the time to give your property a once over when spring storms are at their worst. If you need any help with drainage, sewer backup, perimeter drains, camera inspections or plumbing emergencies call 778.888.6451