Friday, February 28, 2014

Mike Holmes: Protect Your Home From Rain and Snow

The entire eastern half of the US and Canada have taken quite the beating this winter. The thaw is just around the corner as spring looms on the horizon, and when all that snow and ice melts, it's important for people to be prepared to deal with the inevitable flooding. As Mike Holmes states in the article below, flooding can happen during any season, so it's mandatory for homeowners to take appropriate steps to avoid property damage as the seasons begin to shift. Steps such as hiring licenced plumbers to check drains, keeping gutters clear of debris, and shoveling snow away from foundation walls are small things people can do to protect their homes from rain and snow. Mike also advises people to be observant. Monitor how the water is draining through your yard. Is it draining towards your home or away from it? Are big puddles forming? These can be signs of drainage or sloping issues. Lastly, we can't stop the weather, but we can be smart and think ahead to avoid damage caused by snow and rain before it starts.
From the Montreal Gazette:

Mike Holmes: Protecting your home from rain & snow

Think ahead and take pre-emptive steps

Rain and melting snow can make homes more prone to basement flooding. Homeowners can help by cleaning gutters, hiring a licensed plumber to check drains and sump pumps and removing snow from foundation walls.

Everybody thinks that we have to worry about flooding only in the spring and summer but a flood can happen any season. A water main can burst in the street, sewers can back up into your basement, a pipe can burst in your home — even your sump pump can give out.
But the weather can also take an unexpected turn.
Near the end of winter, when temperatures hover just above freezing, we can get a good rainfall when there’s still plenty of snow on the ground. Sometimes this snow covers street drains, and it doesn’t melt fast enough to let all the water drain. When that happens the risk of flooding doubles. Not only is there rainfall that potentially can’t drain but also melting snow. So now we have all this extra water — an entire season’s worth — with nowhere to go.
The last place you want it ending up is in your home. So as we move from winter to spring, here are a few tips to help prepare for the extra precipitation that should be heading our way:

Watch your property. Monitor how water is draining on your front lawn, backyard and around your home. The best way to stop problems is to prevent them and sometimes we’re lucky and get warnings. Big puddles are a warning. They tell you that you might have a grading or drainage issue — and the sooner you fix it the less likely you will have water in your basement.
If it’s a grading issue, you will need to have a professional landscaper re-grade your property — a project that will have to wait until at least the spring. Take some pictures for reference — the puddles will be long gone by the time the landscaper arrives. But a pro can help you protect your property in the meantime. For example, they can strategically place tarps around your home that can help minimize the amount of water reaching your foundation.

Remove snow away from your home’s foundation. Snow stacked up along the side of your house is another warning — shovel it away, especially around basement windows. Think about it: All that snow is water just waiting to happen. And all it takes is the temperature to rise and it isn’t long before it starts to seep into the ground and down the side of your home’s foundation. The first place it will melt is along the side of your home as heat escapes. One tiny crack and it’s in your basement.

Clean your eavestroughs. It might seem small but it makes a big difference when it comes to protecting your home from water damage. Removing debris from your eavestroughs long before winter is best. This helps prevent ice damming and water from backing up underneath your shingles and getting into your roof’s structure. But if it’s a real issue now a roofing contractor can check your eavestroughs, safely remove debris and use a de-icer, if necessary.
And make sure your downspouts are directing any water coming off your roof at least three-to-four-feet (.9-to-1.2-metres) away from your foundation.

All rise. If you know a big storm is headed your way and you’re expecting heavy rain, it’s a safe bet to move any valuables out of the basement to a higher level in your home. Having the furnace and hot water heater elevated off the basement floor is another good precaution. Also, if you know your basement is susceptible to flooding and your electrical panel seems too low call a licensed electrician to have it moved higher. Dealing with water and moisture damage is one thing — and it’s serious — but dealing with a damaged furnace and/or electrical panel is another can of worms, very serious, too.

Check the sump pump. Your sump pump pumps out any water that has made its way below your basement into the sump pit or basin. Once water reaches a certain level in the basin, the sump pump kicks into action and starts to pump it out, as long as it’s working properly. Most homeowners don’t know there’s a problem with the sump pump until there’s water coming up into the basement. But you can have a licensed plumber come in before a major storm and check it out to make sure it’s working properly.
You could also have them install a sump-pump alarm with battery back up. So if water reaches a certain level in the sump pit and the pump doesn’t start working, the alarm goes off and you can immediately call your plumber. There are also some sump- pump alarms that can send you a text message in case there’s a problem and you’re not home.

We can’t prevent storms but we can prevent some of the damage they cause. Think ahead, be smart and take the right steps to protect your home.

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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