Outlast Heavy Rain With These 5 Home Preparation Tips!
When it comes to bad weather, many Americans seem to adopt a “wait-and-hope” kind of attitude. While it’s true that people can’t stop the seasons from changing or bringing their usual storms with them, it would be a lie to claim that homeowners are utterly powerless. In reality, dealing with rain is just another part of owning property responsibly, and it’s critical to stay ready. How can an ordinary family protect its home from torrential downpours? The secret may lie in taking a few extra steps that you wouldn’t need to consider for passing squalls. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to get the ball rolling. Here are five winning pointers from the experienced people at Aloha Construction.
- Perform a Comprehensive Inspection
Lake Zurich’s relatively placid environs compared to nearby Chicago can lull many homeowners into a false sense of security. As weather experts point out, however, proximity to large bodies of water can make storms more severe and sudden by powering precipitation near shorelines.
In other words, those who reside near the Great Lakes can’t always hope they’ll get lucky when storms blow through. When preparing a home for an imminent weather event, it’s critical to pay close attention to the easily overlooked elements. This usually means giving your property a walkthrough to find problematic spots where water could enter or cause problems during a sudden heavy rainfall period. Several of the storm damage problems repaired here at Aloha Construction could have been avoided if property owners had just been a bit more vigilant beforehand.
It’s crucial to check your gutters, roof, and home foundation regularly, so you can check to see if there are any issues and prepare accordingly when the weather requires it.
What should homeowners be on the lookout for?
Effective rain protection strategies need to match the property in question. Many homeowners begin with the lowest parts of their buildings because they’re so critical:
- Homes with outdoor basement access or stairwells might need extra help keeping water out, and cleaning their drains is just the start. Although using sandbags or hurricane socks can be an effective emergency measure, redesigning the surrounding soil is a better long-term solution. Building a small hill, or soil crown, is a great way to divert significant volumes of water, and it can also give you new landscaping options that you might not have thought of.
- Rainfall that thoroughly soaks the ground can rear its ugly head again later: Water might start appearing inside basements, crawlspaces and wall cavities. To get a handle on such problems, it’s usually wise to install a reliable sump pump. If you already have a sump pump, then be certain to check the discharge line to ensure that it’s not too clogged to allow proper flow.
- Existing holes are prime territory for major problems. Although many storm leaks seem sudden, most of these problems build gradually. Scour walls, ceilings, closet interiors and attics on a hunt for mold, discolorations and water stains to ensure that you’re not missing an issue that’s been right under your nose.
- Effective waterproofing isn’t just outside: It also protects homes from within. In addition to examining exteriors for holes, cracks, and defects, it’s critical to check seals in basements and foundations. Waterproofing system upgrades are small investments compared to the gargantuan costs of extracting floodwaters and repairing the damage they leave behind.
Pre-storm home inspections also need to pay attention to the more obvious elements of a building’s exterior, or envelope:
- Roofing inspections are a must, especially after the cold season. Leaks that were minor a few short months ago may have grown worse as they filled with water that then froze into ice dams and expanded. If these problems remain unfixed by the time more rain comes, they’ll just let more water in. Since roof systems are usually composed of many different layer elements, this part of the inspection is better left to the experts. Working with an Aloha Construction professional can also make it easier to avoid injuring yourself.
- Gutters only work with correct maintenance. Always check for warped downspouts, sagging mounts and cracked drain tile piping to ensure that these devices won’t fail in your hour of dire need.
- Window and door seals are easy to inspect for degradation that might let water indoors, but you can’t just give them a quick glance and hope all is good. Taking a gander at the entire window sash from both sides might save you from missing a crack that lets water spread unseen and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.
- Siding inspections are critical to surviving heavy storms. Remember that rain doesn’t always fall straight down, especially during severe weather. Making sure that your siding is free of gaps could improve your chances of staying dry and avoiding the growth of persistent damp spots.
Above all, the best way to prepare for a storm is to get informed about your property’s existing deficiencies. If you don’t know where the problems lie, you can’t fight them effectively, so start by chatting with an Aloha Construction expert.
2. Remember That Heavy Rain Isn’t Just Water
Once the trauma and mental stress of rainstorms pass, it’s easy to forget that they bring far more than just precipitation. Serious rain means heady winds, flooding and lasting moisture. These issues have side effects that last for months after the clouds have cleared:
It doesn’t take a major hurricane to cause expensive wind damage, so get serious about defending your castle. Fast-traveling pressure fronts and storm walls can use pieces of debris like missiles against your home. They can also transform your property into rubble if it’s unprepared.
When talking to an Aloha Construction specialist about replacing those roof shingles that are just hanging on by a nail or two, be sure to ask about
- Securing siding panels with strong fasteners, especially if they’re already a bit loose or shaky,
- Installing storm shutters made of steel or aluminum so that you can seal things up tightly if needed
- Checking gutter and downspout mounting to ensure that they won’t blow away when they’re already straining to carry excess water weight, and
- Upgrading or repairing vulnerable garage doors.
Bear in mind that even though professionals like Aloha Construction can help with most of these tasks, you also have to take responsibility as a homeowner. Be proactive, get a little exercise, and save yourself money in repair bills by
- Bolting down heavy objects that might get picked up and become projectiles,
- Storing things that you can’t bolt down securely inside of a shed or away from your home,
- Hiring someone to prune trees and shrubs that are growing close to power lines or your building.
Although they’re absolutely vital, sump pumps have limitations. In addition to ensuring that yours is properly rated for your property, it’s good to think about the bigger picture. For instance, redoing the landscaping around the edges of your property might help the municipal storm system do its job more effectively.
Flooding also carries the risk of exposure to hazardous conditions. Homeowners who don’t want to worry about encountering toxic backwash should take the time to have their sewer lines cleared.
If potential flooding could fill areas like basements, then it’s wise to call an electrical contractor who can install a safe access panel for cutting the power to inundated areas. Also, consider upgrading at-risk power outlets to self-tripping GFCE devices like those commonly found in bathrooms. Making these minor electrical changes can save your life if you end up having to navigate around a flooded interior.
Moisture in building components leads to the growth of mold and mildew that exacerbate respiratory illnesses. In many cases, it can also weaken structural members by causing them to warp and swell, which heightens the risk that they might fail and injure someone.
Be thorough when fighting moisture. For instance, if a home’s siding or trim is painted wood, then the owners may need to recoat it before storm season. These touch-ups are especially important with older buildings constructed before the 1990s.
3. A Little Cleaning Never Hurt Anyone
Has it been months since your filthy gutters last saw the light of day? Are your downspouts clogged with enough vegetation to rival the garden center at your local hardware store? Cleanliness helps these systems work by diverting water, so it’s essential to change your habits. Making a regular routine of seasonal checks around the foundation, outside, and basement of your home can make a drastic change in the time and money you save over time.
Gutters and Downspouts
When gutters get clogged, the water that would normally enter them overflows and falls to the ground right there. This can cause serious erosion below roof overhangs. Since these spots are coincidentally right next to exterior walls, such events dramatically raise the probability that water might migrate beneath your foundation or start entering your basement. If you’re still unconvinced, remember that cleaning gutters usually takes a weekend at most, but repairing serious water inundation can be a far more grueling prospect.
Dirty gutters can also reveal the telltale signs of ongoing roof damage. As asphalt roof shingles degrade, they release tiny granules and pieces of grit that end up getting swept into the gutters. If you find a lot of this sand-like material when you’re pulling out all of those dead leaves, it may mean that you also need to reseal the roof.
Yards, Additions, and Patios
Been falling behind on your yardwork? Removing debris does more than merely keeping your neighbors from calling the HOA. Piles of vegetation and other organic matter might get soaked in a storm and become havens for insects, rodents and other wildlife, so clearing it up is usually smart. Take a few Saturday mornings to rake, pick up sticks, and handle the lawn work! It may feel tedious, but maintaining your deck or patio’s cleanliness can dramatically improve your chances of debris build up.
Now is also an excellent time to inspect exterior components that attach to your building. For instance, many homes that currently have decks only acquired these features as afterthoughts. Builders commonly affix these elements to dwellings by adding wooden ledgers that mount onto existing wood framing to support the horizontal joists beneath the decking. Although flashing and seals are widely accepted components for making such additions water-tight, they’re not always appropriately installed. Having an Aloha Construction general contractor check out your deck could be a smart idea, especially if it had rot problems in the past.
4. Windows and Doors: Make Sure Closures Actually Close
Buildings have a habit of sagging under their own weight over time. As homes settle and shift, these tendencies can result in small gaps between the edges of doors, windows, and frames.
Unfortunately, these issues are hard for most homeowners to detect, and other problems, such as excessive condensation, can confuse the issue even more. Fortunately, most of these problems can be corrected easily by resealing the joints where windows, frames, doors, brick fascia and other elements meet. Using a weather-rated caulk or similar sealant usually does the trick, although it’s worth considering hiring a professional who knows what to look for and has the time to do the job right.
Replacing weatherstripping and seals can also be a fairly time-intensive job. For instance, you’ll have to remove the moving part of the window from its track or frame, which may be easier to accomplish safely with two people. Once you’ve gained access to the weatherstripping material, you may need to use a solvent or some elbow grease to unseat it. Working with a professional at Aloha Construction makes it easier to perform a more thorough repair complete with expanding foam that fills in unseen gaps.
Like gutters and sump pumps, windows and other building materials are only rated to resist certain amounts of water. Homeowners whose windows feature metal or vinyl frames should ensure they don’t get overwhelmed by inspecting the bottom of these elements for drain holes, also known as weep holes. Using a wire or another fine implement, make sure these holes are open and free of debris.
5. Talk to an Expert
It’s entirely possible to accomplish some of these tips on your own, and who doesn’t love DIY? For instance, if you own a pair of binoculars or a smartphone camera with a modest zoom, then you already have most of the tools you need to pinpoint roofing defects safely from the ground.
At the same time, there are many jobs that casual homeowners have no business handling. Although anyone can scan for trouble areas on a roof and refer them to an expert, it takes decades of hands-on expertise to inspect and repair pipe boots, attic vents, solar panel mounts and other breach points. You have to know what you’re looking for before you can diagnose potential problems, and mistakes matter: Failing to install flashing the right way or forgetting to seal a chimney could have catastrophic results.
In some cases, it’s difficult to discern what constitutes a problem, and homeowners may miss the signs that professionals would spot right away. For instance, driveways and walkways need to be properly graded so that they direct water away from homes into streets and other municipal drainage networks. Many outdated pavement systems also require resealing to keep water from pooling under your home, but their cracks aren’t always easy to see or diagnose.
Heavy rains have a knack for defying people’s expectations. While Illinois may not be in store for a massive hurricane in the near future, protecting your home is the only way to ensure that you’re ready for anything. Professional assistance safeguards your investment and keeps it code-compliant in case you decide to sell later.
Ready to Get Your Household Rain Protection Routine on Point?
Each home is unique. Storm solutions that work flawlessly for some properties may fail catastrophically with others. Talking to an expert is the easiest way to get your strategy on the right track by pinpointing steps that could improve your living situation.
The Aloha Construction team knows what it’s like to worry about risking everything, and don’t think people should have to gamble their homes on inclement weather. They may be a family-owned business, but they work hard to maintain our general contractor status so that we can provide a range of custom solutions for property owners across Illinois and Wisconsin.
The company offers free inspections and financing options to those interested. Their team members are professionally trained, and their firm is fully licensed, bonded and insured.
With years of experience in providing roofing, siding, gutter and building envelope services, Aloha has the skills to prepare you for the weather to come. Since getting their start as a small team of passionate professionals, they’ve completed 20,000 jobs, and we can’t wait to help you get your home storm-ready next. Get in touch with Aloha Construction today to explore the options.