Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Home Inspector - Water Damage Lookout

Before buying a home, hire a professional to come and inspect the following major house systems to insure that they do not have any problems or deficiencies: the heating and central air conditioning, plumbing, the roof, electrical systems, attic, visible insulation, walls, windows, ceilings, floors, foundations, and the basement.

Even if expenses are tight, set aside money to hire the inspector, for he or she may catch the slightest evidence of water damage that you would otherwise have had to later pay thousands of dollars to repair the damaged walls, structural beams, ceilings, and/or foundation.

Water damage may occur for multiple reasons. For one, if the temperature drops below negative ten, your water pipes can freeze or even burst, resulting in six inches of water covering your floors. If you own a pool and it begins to leak, you will definitely ruin your lawn and most likely flood our basement. Or perhaps your washing machine will overflow or the sewer pipes will back up, both will result in a flooded basement. Maybe water will seep from the ground into the basement, which will damage the foundation and interior. If your roof leaks during a heavy rainstorm, it will likely be damaged, as well as the attic, ceiling, and maybe even furniture. When the kids overflow the bathtub, water seeps into corners and wood, which could stain and eventually lead to mold growth and structural damage. If a nearby stream, river, or lake overflows, your living room may be flash flooded.

Insurance companies often cover water damage problems. So, if you currently have water damage, contact your insurance agent to see if the issue is covered. If you are not dealing with water damage, consult an agent anyway to make sure you know which of our possessions are covered in your insurance plan and which are not.

Before buying a home, make sure you and your inspector have examined for the following major issues: water seepage and wet basements, roof leaks, and weak water pressure. To prevent water seepage and wet basements, make sure any house foundation cracks are sealed and all surface water runs-off away from the house. If the house has small cracks in the foundation or has porous walls, heavy rains could cause severe and expensive structural damage. And by simply redirecting water surface run-off, water damage problems can be alleviated.
When investigating the roof, take extra time to examine the flashing, areas where the roof plane changes. For example, if the roofing was poorly laid around the chimney or plumbing vent, there may now be water damage. When you have a home or if you already have a home, check the flashing and the interior of your roof at least once a season to catch constant leaks early and to prevent mold growth or damage to the insulation.

Poor water pressure could be the result of either deficiencies in your water service supply, or it could stem from the more costly problem - your piping needs to be upgraded. The plumbing problem may be as simple as blocked faucets aerators that are partially closed or defective. If your home is older, you may have galvanized piping (steel pipes with zinc coating), which will likely mean that time has allowed your pipes to either corrode or gathered deposit build-up. In this case, you should think about replacing the blocked sections of piping.

One of the largest water issues of today is mold. Mold has become the cause of numerous insurance claims because they can be harmful to one’s health and destructive to homes. Normally molds are not indoor problems, unless mold spores land on a dark, moist spot. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and potentially toxic substances, such as mycotoxins. When in contact with mold, sensitive people may experience allergic reactions, fever-type symptoms, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes, sneezing, asthma attacks, sore throats, and/or irritated lungs. Usually only allergic and irritant type reactions from inhaling molds are reported
If you have just bought a house or currently own one, take the following steps to prevent mold damage of your home and to prevent health issues.
  1. Examine your home for mold. When found, wash it off hard surfaces, and allow them to dry completely. If you find mold on absorbent materials, such as carpets, tiles, or ceilings, replace them.
  2. Keep your air conditioner, refrigerator, and dehumidifier’s drip pans accessible to keep clean and dry.
  3. When you are showering, cooking, or using the dishwasher, keep exhaust fans running or windows open in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  4. Always keep the vents of your dryers and bathroom exhaust fans flowing outside.
  5. If you’ve experienced a flood, replace the affected absorbent materials such as carpets and drywall.
  6. Find a hygrometer at a hardware store to measure the humidity level and maintain a relatively low level of 30-50 percent.
  7. Use mold-killing products to clean your bathroom and kitchen.
  8. Add mold inhibitors to paint when you are painting your home.
  9. Never carpet your bathrooms. If you have carpet there, ripe it up and replace it with vinyl, laminate, or tile.
  10. If the problem is overwhelming or heath problems are acting up, consult a professional.
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