The beauty of a fresh blanket of new-fallen snow can transform a city street or a country hillside into a winter wonderland. The snowflakes drifting from the sky and landing silently on treetops and rooftops can give us a peaceful feeling as we take in the scene. But beware the dangers that these snowfalls can bring with them. Not all snowfalls are peaceful, and the aftermath of a foot of snow can be a ton of water damage and basement disaster.
Searching for a house can be exciting and, at times, overwhelming. Once you finally find “the one,” the last thing you want is to discover that you are the proud new owner of a house with water damage. Buying a house with water damage can be a nightmare, especially if you are unaware of the damage prior to the purchase. The following tips can help you be an informed buyer and avoid unknowingly buying a house with water damage.
You flip the light switch and start down the basement stairs. Suddenly you freeze like a deer in headlights. The reflection of the basement light glares up at you off the several inches, or feet, of water covering everything in your basement. Your heart pounds in your ears and your stomach churns. Panic-stricken you turn the light off, wait a moment, and turn it back on. No, it’s not a dream, this is real – a real nightmare. Your basement is flooded.
To some, wood paneling is synonymous with orange shag carpet and avocado-colored appliances of the 1950s through 1970s. But paneling is making a comeback for many reasons. Paneling is a way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. A rustic look can be achieved with reclaimed – or reclaimed looking – paneling. Wainscoting has become a popular decorating choice as well as running panels horizontally to give a room character. Many times, paneling is white-washed or painted a neutral color such as gray. Wood paneling is more durable than drywall or wallpaper and can even protect your walls.
One of the most frequently overlooked home-maintenance projects is also one of the most important – cleaning the gutters. It probably ranks at the bottom of the list of enjoyable jobs; yet this “ounce of prevention” can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in home repairs if you just get out there and do it.
The tools necessary for cleaning your gutters can be as simple as a ladder and a pair of gloves. However, there are also several gadgets that can speed the process along; or at least be a great excuse to buy the latest and greatest attachment for your power washer!
Buying a house, any house, is not a spontaneous decision. There is much to consider with such an important investment. Buying a house with water damage adds a whole new level to the depth of considerations when deciding on a home to purchase.
Below are a few steps and tips to keep in mind when contemplating the purchase of a house that has water damage. Carefully weighing the facts and being realistic about your budget and risk tolerance is crucial. The same items that could be a deal breaker for you may not even faze another potential buyer. Gather all the facts and if you decide to purchase, be vigilant about repairs and proactive about preventing future water damage.
Whether you live in Michigan, Ohio, or another area, you may have heard the term “Michigan basement.” In this article we’ll explore what that term means and offer tips on how to protect your Michigan basement from water damage!
Types of Soil
Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.
Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.
Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:
Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.
Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.
Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.
Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.
Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.
Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.
Improving Drainage Around Your House
Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.
Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!
Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.
Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.
Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.
Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about basement waterproofing options from EverDry Toledo.
Schedule a Free 20-Point Inspection
If you have questions about your foundation or would like to schedule an inspection to ensure the base of your home is in good shape, EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you pinpoint the source of the moisture problem. If it’s foundation-related, our waterproofing solutions can make your basement dry, healthy, and comfortable.
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The Long-Term Cost to Your Possessions
If there is a good side to basement flooding, it may be that it gives you the jumpstart you need to finally clean the basement. Unfortunately, you’re probably in for a lot more cleaning and purging than you anticipated. Besides the items which are an obvious loss, even items which you thought were untouched by the flood may be damaged. Let’s say you used plastic storage containers to organize your basement; in most circumstances, they provide excellent protection for your possessions. But if there were even a hairline crack in the container, it would be enough to let water get in and damage the contents.
Not only that, it takes a while for basement humidity levels to normalize after a flood. During that time, paper and fabric items stored in the containers can soak up moisture from the air and become a breeding ground for mold. Your best course of action is to remove everything from these containers and let them completely air dry. Drying the contents outdoors can speed the process, but keep the items out of the sun to prevent fading.
The Long-Term Cost to Your House
Cleaning the walls and floors of your basement are critical, and having them cleaned by professionals could mean the difference between a small cleaning fee and the cost of major structural repairs down the road.
On rare occasions, basement carpeting can be saved if it’s immediately cleaned by professionals and thoroughly dried. But this is only the case if the damage has been caused by “sanitary flooding” or flooding caused by clean water, for example, a leaky water pipe. Even then, the cleanup should be done within 12 hours of the flood and followed immediately with a drying process that includes multiple fans and humidifiers. Unsanitary flooding (from rainwater, for instance) or black-water flooding from raw sewage contaminates carpeting making it unsalvageable. Wood floors (solid or those with plywood backing) will often be unusable as well after floodwaters cause them to swell and buckle.
Basement drywall and paneling are easily damaged by basement flooding. If they’re not removed during cleanup, they MUST be disinfected (bleach is preferred) and completely dried to prevent mold growth.
If the basement area remains humid following a flood, it could lead to serious structural damage from dry rot. Dry rot is a term used to describe a particular kind of dry, cracking, rotting wood. It’s the product of a variety of fungus that thrives in semi-moist conditions. Dry rot doesn’t limit itself to wood, either; it can grow through damp mortar, concrete, masonry, and plaster.
Another area to consider is your electrical system. Once the house is pumped out and you begin recovery efforts, most – if not all – electrical equipment impacted by water is probably ruined. This can include:
- Cables and wires (even those sheathed in plastic)
- Circuit panels and circuit breakers
- Fuse boxes and fuses
- Switched disconnect boxes
- Outlet receptacles
- Circuit boards
- Non-submersible pumps
- Blowers and fans
- Air conditioners
You’ll need an experienced electrician and HVAC technician to assess the damage and perform repairs.
Finally, you may not realize the true long-term damage caused to your house until years later when you try to sell it. Real estate laws differ from state to state, but almost every state requires the seller to disclose damage caused by a flood. If your basement was damaged by flooding and you can’t document complete cleanup and repairs, that could be a big “red flag” for prospective home buyers.
The Long-Term Cost to Your Health
Beyond an unpleasant smell, a moldy basement can lead to very serious health issues. Prolonged exposure to indoor molds such as those found in a basement may lead to upper respiratory tract infections such as coughs, wheezing, and asthma symptoms, especially in people who have allergies. It can also cause fungal infections in people with compromised immune systems, including those recovering from cancer or those who have artificial joints or heart replacement valves. Some types of molds – most notably “black mold” – can cause serious bleeding inside your lungs, resulting in damage to other organs as well.
The long-term costs of water damage in the home can easily increase to thousands of dollars. Not only that, it can damage something truly priceless – your health. If you’re concerned about the possibility of water damage in your basement, Team EverDry is here to help! Contact us online or give us a call at (419) 841-6055 to schedule
a free 20-point basement inspection