Tag Archives: Maine water damage mitigation

Building Water Leaks and RAIN

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.”

Cold Weather Damage Prevention

from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety-

“Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls. It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let the warm air circulate around the pipes.

Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It’s not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow. Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.”

Humidity and Mold Growth

The arrival of warm summer weather provides opportunity for  fresh air through screened windows and doors. Summer breezes are refreshing. Remember to close windows and doors when outdoor humidity levels rise. Basement windows should remain closed as well to keep humid ambient air out and to prevent mold growth. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners should be evaluated for maintenance and repairs prior to operation.

Water, Mold, & Building Materials

Building Science Corporation is a credible resource with unbiased factual information.
BSI-027 is a fascinating examination of the prevalence of microbial growth in new buildings. This excerpt is interesting and the photographs included in the article are truly remarkable.

“Mold is pretty easy to understand. No water no mold. Any questions? Well, there are a few. For one we have more mold today, but we don’t have more water. What’s with that? We’ve always built outside out of wet stuff. Concrete comes in a big truck and we “pour it.” We put “mud” in the joints of gypsum board. That hasn’t changed. The problem is that the same amount of water we’ve always had to deal with is hanging around longer and longer in building materials that can’t take it. We have more insulation today and that reduces drying potentials because it reduces energy exchange. That is one reason we have more problems with mold today. The “more insulation” is responsible for the water “hanging around longer” part. But there is another reason—the building materials “that can’t take it” part. We used to build out of rocks and 1,000 year-old trees. Not any more and that is a big deal, as we will see.

From an engineering perspective all that mold needs is carbon—to boldly go where no mold has gone before and seek out and find carbon. But it wants the carbon in a very special form—it wants it in the form of sugar. So, all the mold wants is the carbon in sugar. Now, we don’t talk that way because we don’t want civilians to catch on. We say that mold wants the carbon in a glucose polymer called cellulose—it makes us sound smarter. So where is all the cellulose? It’s in the plant kingdom. So, all the mold wants is the carbon in the cellulose in the plant kingdom. Pretty easy so far. But there are certain rules that the mold has to follow—one of which is that the plant has to be dead first. So what do we build out of? Naturally, dead plants.1″

Ice Dam Warning Signs

Removing accumulated snow and ice from the roof can help prevent future interior water damage. Roof dam warning signs may be visible from building exteriors:

  • Icicles at the roof edge
  • Ice accumulation in the rain gutter and edge of the roof
  • Ice in soffit vents
  • Ice on exterior siding
  • Ice or excessive moisture accumulation on interior window cases and sills

Along with water damage to building interiors, accumulated snow on the roof can cause roof failure or collapse. FEMA publishes snow load safety information here, the National Weather Service in Juneau AK published snow load calculations here and Purdue University offers a comprehensive calculation formula here.

Water Damage and Plants

Gardening can be a a pleasure, especially after a long winter. Thoughtful planning in horticultural pursuits will prevent water damage and ancillary building systems damage. Landscaping Network advocates caution in planting and pruning plants with runners so they do not penetrate the building envelope or invade underground utilities. Allowing 2-3 feet between foundations and plants and shrubs is advisable to allow air to circulate freely between the building and vegetation to keep the building dry. Considering all aspects in your landscape design will provide continuing enjoyment.