A great seasonal list from our friends at houzz.com. Seasonal maintenance is fundamental to preventing winter water damage. Repairs now will prevent expense later.
Commercial and residential buildings will benefit from early maintenance before cold weather arrives.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Reseal exterior woodwork- fences, pergolas, sheds, and trellises should be inspected and included in the process.
- Check for pest infestation and associated damage- small animals, e.g. mice and squirrels, as well as insects ants, termites, and wasps can present problems and cause damage.
- Roof inspection/repair will protect the building from heavy snow loads and ice dams.
- Chimney inspection, as well as window and skylight inspection will help prevent leaks and water damage.
- Attics and basements shouldn’t be overlooked, particular attention should be paid to attic insulation.
- Wood stoves and heaters should be inspected for necessary repairs/replacement.
- HVAC and heating systems will benefit from service and filter changes.
- Windows and doors should be inspected for replacement and repairs.
- Landscaping, particularly trees and shrubs, will survive winter better protected before harsh weather arrives.
Moisture is often a silent building wrecker. An insignificant slow drip can cause a substantial amount of damage.
REALTORS® and www.houselogic.com publish a very handy list for maintenance as it relates to water leaks and intrusions-
1. When it rains, actively pay attention. Are your gutters overflowing? Is water flowing away from your house like it should? Is water coming inside?
2. After heavy rains and storms, do a quick inspection of your roof, siding, foundation, windows, doors, ceilings, and basement to spot any damage or leaks.
3. Use daylight savings days or the spring and fall equinox to remind you to check and test water-related appliances like your washer, refrigerator, water heater, HVAC (condensation in your HVAC can cause leaks) or swamp cooler, and sump pump. It’s also a great time to do regular maintenance on them. Inspect any outdoor spigots and watering systems for leaks, too.
4. Repair any damage and address any issues and leaks ASAP.
“Don’t procrastinate when you spot minor leaks or drips inside your house. Ongoing small leaks can slowly erode pipes and fixtures, and even cause mold and mildew issues you won’t notice until it’s too late.
Say you’ve got a bit of cracked caulk around the kitchen window. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold damage and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.”
State Farm posts this advice for cold winter temperatures and storms-
When the mercury plummets
Even if you’ve taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you skip town
Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don’t forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing.
- Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes do freeze
What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventive measures? First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Plumbing related water damage is a common occurrence. Often plumbing leaks are designated as minor problems or annoyances rather than serious concerns in need of professional attention.
houzz.com published an informative piece on plumbing repairs and the many reasons hiring a licensed plumber is proactive prevention.
“You might think a running toilet or leaky faucet is a trivial issue in your home, something for your handyperson to take on later when you’ve got other jobs around the house to do. But make no mistake: Never skip a drip. Leaks, even minor ones, can amount to big increases on your water and even heating bill. “You’d be surprised at how much is going down the drain and how much you’re paying by not getting it fixed,” says plumber Scott Campbell of Central Penn Plumbing Services in Pennsylvania.
What’s more, fixing leaky faucets and toilets make up the majority of what most professional plumbers do, and trying to fix a faucet yourself, or hiring your neighbor’s uncle, can lead to serious issues. “It’s a quick and easy fix, but still something you want to call a professional about,” Campbell says.”
The most important thing to remember to include as part of fall yard work is to prepare outdoor faucets for winter. Remove hoses and be certain exterior water spigots are shut off. It may be a good idea to have a plumber look at exterior spigots to be certain there is no threat of a pipe break.
Fall is a good time to trim landscaping to keep plants away from buildings and foundations. Gutters, downspouts and extensions should be cleared and cleaned so water will flow freely through them.
Property inspection is fundamental to successful real estate purchases. A competent inspector, completing an objective assessment, will identify apparent/potential deficiencies and save prospective buyers untold future expense and lingering unhappiness.
Competence and unbiased opinion is also a quality cornerstone in selecting a licensed real estate agent for representation. Truthful disclosure is absolutely necessary to protect all parties, including the realtor.
Realtor Mag from the National Association of Realtors offers the following-
“Dilemma 1: Should I Disclose That?
“REALTORS® shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction.” (Article 2)
The scenario: Your seller client tells you that a home inspector recently was suspicious of insect damage when he saw the home’s damaged siding. However, the seller disputes that notion, saying he’s never had an insect problem in or around the home.
The risk: Withholding pertinent facts from buyers.
What to do: Disclose anything that affects the value or desirability of the home, says Bruce Aydt, ABR®, CRB, general counsel and senior vice president of St. Louis-based Prudential Alliance, REALTORS®. That may include insect damage, water leakage, structural problems, and more.
Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of serious legal action. “I think some agents are unaware of the potential liability and might agree with the home owner and keep quiet,” Aydt says.
Practitioners may be stumped because they don’t know whether or not a particular fact is important enough to share with prospective buyers, Aydt says. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to err on the side of disclosure.
You’re not the expert; the home inspector is. So if a home inspector says there’s a problem, but the seller disagrees, you have to stick with the assessment of the inspector.
What if sellers refuse to disclose, and urges you to do the same? It’s the safest practice to surrender your listing, Aydt says. The legal risks to you are simply too great.“