09 April 2015

The spring thaw is finally here! Tips for preventing water damage in your home

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Bet you thought spring would never arrive, but here it is!—bringing with it milder temperatures that will quickly melt the ice and snow that has accumulated on and around your home. Follow our tips to make sure your home stays dry this spring.

Keep an eye on your gutters!

As the snow melts, huge quantities of water flow from the roof, running into your home’s gutters. To prevent water infiltration, the key is to be prepared.

Make sure the water in your gutters is draining properly

If your gutters are obstructed, water will back up toward the roof or spill over near your foundation, increasing the risk of water entering your home. In spring, ice can also block up your gutters, preventing the water from flowing freely. The best way to prevent ice build-up is to use a gutter guard or continuous hanging system that will keep the snow and ice on top of the gutter and allow water in the gutter to drain normally as everything thaws.

Protect your gutters against expanding ice

The freeze/thaw cycle causes gutters to expand. This can cause major damage, especially if your gutters are nailed on. Installing them using continuous hangers helps prevent deterioration. Ice and snow stays on top and can drain as it melts. This prevents expansion, since water isn’t sitting in the gutter.

Make sure water is diverted away from the foundation

After water is drained by the gutters and downspouts, make sure it is being directed away from your foundation. When water pools up near a foundation, it can seep into the basement. To keep this from happening, water must be diverted at least six feet (1.8 m) away from the house. One way to achieve this is with a ground slope. The two best solutions for diverting water away from troublesome downspouts are to install a gutter downspout extension or dig a downspout dry well. Made with a geomembrane and gravel , a dry well allows runoff to trickle into the soil slowly.

Check your sump pit!

Sump pumps can help prevent floods and other disasters, but they can also become obstructed or break down if not inspected and maintained regularly. Annual maintenance will help you ensure that your pump is working correctly for years to come.

Test your sump pump

It’s easy to see if your pump is working correctly. Just pour some water into the sump pit and make sure the pump turns on automatically. We strongly recommend adding a battery backup. If the pump is over ten years old, it may experience mechanical issues and fail to work when the time comes. We recommend replacing it in this case. Be sure to read the pump manufacturer’s instructions before use.

If you test the pump and it’s not working :

  • Check for debris obstructing the inlet.
  • Check for any abnormal motor noises.
  • Look for oil in the sump pit (this may indicate a damaged seal).
  • If the pump is activated by a float switch, make sure it isn’t blocked.

Depending on the problem, you can decide to have the pump repaired or replaced.

Contact your municipality to find out where to discharge the water from the sump pump. If it is discharged above ground, it must be diverted at least six feet from the foundation.

Feeling reassured? Just follow our tips and enjoy a worry-free April thaw!

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