Moisture is the #1 Enemy of Any Home (Part 2)
This is the second blog in the series - Moisture is the #1 Enemy of Any Home. Part 1 of the series was published on February 7th, 2018.
Moisture Problems – Hardscaping
Although landscaping is so very important to a dry basement, sometimes other things outside the home can cause water to work its way inside. Because of difficulty and cost, people are often hesitant to consider the negative impact hardscaping can have on moisture intrusion. Hardscaping includes:
Just like the earth, over time these wood, asphalt, and concrete surfaces can settle. Often the settlement will either puddle water alongside or actually drive water towards the foundation. These hard surfaces can be expensive to remove and replace. For this reason, most of the time, homeowners will leave the settled hardscaping and try anything and everything else to try to correct the problem…and it never works! There is a core principal here and that is, if water is being driven towards the foundation, at some time, it is bound to come into the basement or crawl space. It might not be in normal rain or snow thaw, but during in-climate conditions it will.
That’s why if you ask a homeowner selling their house if they have moisture in the basement, their immediate reaction will be NO. Then when they think about it for a moment, they will say something like well maybe a little bit on real heavy rainfalls or only when the downspouts are disconnected or only when it rains really hard from the north. What they are saying is the landscape and hardscape are not sloped adequately to handle large volumes of water. Homeowners, home buyers, and real estate professionals don’t expect basements or crawl spaces to be dry some of the time or even most of the time. Today, these people demand that these below grade spaces be dry ALL of the time.
So the grounds surrounding the home are very important to protect against moisture intrusion!
Moisture Problems – Gutters
Large volumes of water discharge off a home’s roof and can compound a basement or crawl space moisture problem. Depending on the roof design, the amount of water can often be too much for even a yard that is properly graded away from the house. Sometimes we need to add gutters and downspouts to the roof eaves. However, all roofs do not need gutters, in fact, most do not.
Controlling roof drainage is important, but it is never a substitute for proper grading. Too often frustrated homeowners look for the quickest and easiest fix to a basement moisture problem. When landscaping and hardscaping is too difficult or too expensive they look for a short cut. The easy answer is to install gutters, but roof drainage is always secondary to correct earth grading. So, if the landscaping and hardscaping are positively sloped away from the house and the foundation is still damp or wet then adding gutters to the roof is essential. Gutters will manage the surface water coming off the roof and, if properly installed, harmlessly drain it away from the foundation.
So how would a homeowner or real estate agent know when a home should have gutters? The design of the house is the most common indicator. Homes that most often need to control roof drainage to stay dry have any one or all of the following characteristics:
• Steep roof pitch
• Roofs with valleys
• No overhangs or small roof overhangs
These house styles dump huge amounts of water directly on the foundation which, depending on the type of soil, will saturate the earth adjacent to the walls. These wet soils will hold moisture on or adjacent to the foundation which will eventually migrate towards and run down alongside the basement or crawl space walls. Gutters with the proper extensions will direct this water away from the house. Extending the downspout 4 to 6 feet from the wall will help to ensure that water from the roof will not collect near the foundation.
This is Part 2 of a series dedicated to identifying sources of water that could damage your home. Part 3 of the series will discuss high water table issues.
Source: Cities' Inspection Website
As usual, should you be interested in buying or selling a home, or for any further information regarding your home, please contact me, Karen Borden, your North Alabama Real Estate Professional!