Tag Archives: Maine water damage

Fall Maintenance

Commercial and residential buildings will benefit from early maintenance before cold weather arrives.

  1. Clean gutters and downspouts.
  2. Reseal exterior woodwork- fences, pergolas, sheds, and trellises should be inspected and included in the process.
  3. 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.
  4. Roof inspection/repair will protect the building from heavy snow loads and ice dams.
  5. Chimney inspection, as well as window and skylight inspection will help prevent leaks and water damage.
  6. Attics and basements shouldn’t be overlooked, particular attention should be paid to attic insulation.
  7. Wood stoves and heaters should be inspected for necessary repairs/replacement.
  8. HVAC and heating systems will benefit from service and filter changes.
  9. Windows and doors should be inspected for replacement and repairs.
  10. Landscaping, particularly trees and shrubs, will survive winter better protected before harsh weather arrives.

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.”

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″

Drying Books and Documents

The Northeast Document Conservation Center publishes a protocol for drying wet books and documents. The recommended recovery is applicable to damp items as well as wet ones. There is hope for salvaging records and documents stored in wet basements and water damaged attics. Freezing may be fundamental to restoration.
“The successful recovery of water-damaged library and archival materials depends on timely response to a disaster. Rapid response maximizes recovery of collections materials and expedites the restoration of services. To extend decision-making time regarding salvage and replacement, freezing is the most viable option for most institutions. Because it inhibits mold growth, freezing allows the time to determine if value, use, and format of the original are important, or to de-accession or purchase replacement materials or materials in a different format. Freezing also provides a respite to review insurance policies and vendor contracts. Finally, freezing will allow time to find space for air drying, determine if there is adequate staff and time to air dry, and to handle large incidents in a smaller, more controlled atmosphere.”

Moisture Control Guidance

The EPA publishes Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction and Maintenance. Site Drainage is fundamental to effective moisture control. There is a pdf. section devoted to construction methods in basement and crawl space condensation control. Basement waterproofing and crawl space repair can restrict condensation accumulation in existing buildings.

Indoor Air Quality Routines

Spring is on the way and soon spring cleaning will be underway. Duct inspection is sometimes overlooked in routine maintenance. There are unnoticed systems in every building that contribute to the quality of the indoor environment. Ducting is found in  different applications- bathroom exhaust fans, clothes dryers and HVAC are some of the most common. The EPA publishes a lot of useful information that can be accessed here.