Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Water Management

I just recently performed a home inspection that screamed out to me to talk about water management around your home. In Minnesota, water management is one crucial item that any person considering purchasing a home should take seriously. Considering the cycles our climate goes through (hot to cold), and sometimes within days, making sure the water around your home is far enough away from the foundation is very important.
The recent home inspection uncovered Mold and possible structural damage to the foundation in the garage. The home was situated on a hill side and the backside of the home was partly buried in the hill. The foundation was a poured concrete form foundation. The one corner of the garage was covered with mold from the floor to about 3 feet up and approximately 5 feet out in both directions. Now in this same corner of the home, on the exterior, was a gutter downspout that was not attached at the top of the roof and to the drain tube at the bottom. Was this a major source of water? Yes. However, there was evidence throughout that the lower level was at one time flooded up to 1-2 inches in water. There was also evidence that water had come in on the other corner of the basement.
So what do you do to prevent this?. This home was not built correctly with water proofing barrier and proper grading and drainage for the area it was constructed. Second, the previous owner had obviously ignored key items of maintenance around the exterior such as cleaning the gutters (which were full of debris), properly back filling, grading the corners and not monitoring or repairing loose and damaged gutter downspouts. These items could have helped to alleviate quite a bit of damage and possible any damage all together.
What simple things can you do?. Shrubs and bushes properly placed the correct distance away from the home can help to stabilize the soil and absorb water. Be sure to clean your gutters regularly and properly secure your downspouts with straps to the structure and secure your extensions to the downspouts using fasteners such as screws (this will help to ensure the extension does not slip off). Make sure your extensions discharge at least 4-5 feet away from the structure or foundation to an area that will allow continued properly sloped drainage. Finally, if you are in the market to purchase a new home, be aware of the area and terrain drainage. See if the grading looks as though the water would drain toward the home or away from the home. If the foundation is partly buried, find out if there is a water barrier system and drain tiling around the exterior perimeter to remove any water that may come down close to the foundation. This is less likely to be there if the home is much older, but if new construction, most builders would likely install such a system or be able to verify if one has not been installed.
The object is to be aware of the surroundings of the home as well as the interior. Look for older evidence of water damage or intrusion, which can suggest a potential future issue, even if not clearly present at that time and ask questions of the seller or builder. If you have any questions or would like more information about a Minnesota home inspection, visit our website at or call us @ 612-919-3844.