The Number One most common problem in the
Northwest is water. The second most common problem? Water.
And, surprise, the third most common problem is: Water.
1. Drainage: Wet climate = wet
basements and crawl spaces. This
be the result
of anything from non-existent, clogged,
or damaged drain lines around the perimeter of the foundation,
to a disconnected gutter downspout, or just plain dirty, debris-filled
gutters that overflow every time we get a good rain. Clean your
gutters regularly and make sure all your downspouts are connected.
Grade soil downhill and away from the foundation. Remember,
water runs down hill. Have the Roto-guy clean out your existing
perimeter drain lines if you have them. If these attempts fail,
it is time to look into adding new or repairing existing foundation
2. Gutter Malfunctions: CLEAN
GUTTERS REGULARLY! Gutter guards alone
do not keep
the gutters clear. Clean out the valleys and
the area behind your chimney. These spots tend to trap debris,
especially on roofs with lower slopes. And most importantly
connect all your down spouts, and direct them downhill away
from the foundation or into functional storm drain lines.
3.Wood destroying organisms: Keeping these pests
from making a home out of your home is a matter of paying
attention to, and ridding your place of, what we call conducive
conditions. A conducive condition is any condition that
promotes deterioration of wood or moisture. These include:
- Earth to wood contact.
- Moisture. Plumbing leaks, roof leaks, any leaks, poor drainage.
- Water damaged wood (wood decay fungus, often referred to as dry rot).
- Inadequate ventilation or clearance in the crawl space to allow airflow.
- Inaccessibility for a thorough inspection in crawlspaces.
- Wood scrap or stumps that can rot too close to or under
the building. This includes wooden form boards and cleats
left in concrete at the time of construction.
- Plants or trees too close or touching the siding and/or roof.
- No vapor barrier installed over all soil in the crawlspaces.
Too often I find infested stumps
next to or under the house and scrap wood in the crawl space.
It is a bad idea to store cordwood next to the house or in
the basement. Trees and plants should be cut back at least
away from siding and roofs. There should be access to
all areas of the attic and crawl space. In the crawl space clearance
below joists should be a minimum of 18 inches with no less than
12 inches below beams. A 6 mil. plastic vapor barrier should
be installed to cover all soil in the crawlspaces. Fix leaks
immediately, eliminate all earth to wood contact, and replace
all damaged wood. Most wood destroying insects like soft and/or
4. Tile tub surrounds and shower pans: These
things are notorious for leaking. A little known fact is that
grout needs to be sealed and caulk needs to be maintained
regularly. The old shower pans did not have the waterproof
membrane that we use now, so it is only a matter of time before
they leak. Even the new installations can and do leak. These
leaks can be difficult to determine in the early stages.
5. Toilets: They are often
not fastened to the floor and the wax ring leaks. A wax
ring that leaked in the past is often why the toilet is
not connected to the floor in the first place. The floor
may have rotted where the toilet was screwed down so that
when a repair was attempted there was nothing solid for
the screws to grab so it was just held in position with
caulk or, more often, with nothing.
6. Attic ventilation: Rarely
do I see an attic with adequate ventilation. Folks don't
like the look of those cans on the roof, so either they
don't install the required number or only install them on
the back of the building. What they don't know is that they
are taking life away from their expensive roofs, and possibly
creating condensation in their attics. This not only leads
to a shortened roof life, but can also cause damage to the
roof sheathing (plywood), insulation, and even to the interior
drywall or plaster; not to mention creating conducive conditions
for wood destroying organisms (fungal rot, termites, wood
boring beetles, and carpenter ants).
7. Furnaces: They need to
be serviced regularly.
Same for a gas water heater, they need
tune-ups to keep them burning clean and safely. If you have
finished your basement take into consideration the fact that
you may have eliminated the combustion air source that allows
your furnace to run cleanly and safely. Often the air filter
looks like it has not been changed or cleaned in years, causing
stress on the system and potential over heating which
can lead to premature wear on the furnace.
|Clogged Air Filter
8. Electrical problems: Amateur installations can
create a real safety hazard. The most common problem I note
is the habit of installing three-hole
outlets to a two-wire system. This creates the illusion of a
receptacle that is grounded when it isn't. This is a safety
hazard for everyone not in on the secret. Another tip off that
the weekend handyman has been busy is the multiple outlets with
reverse polarity. A look in the panel box often reveals improperly
sized wire or breakers. Exposed and loose wires and splices
are regularly found in attics, basement, and garages.
9. Roof Flashing: Flashing
is used to protect the building wherever there is a penetration
through the roof. It prevents water entry and is an integral
part of the whole roof system. Missing counter flashing around
the chimneys is a common problem. This is flashing that is
cut into the chimney mortar and covers the step flashing that
runs under the roofing and against the chimney. Without this
counter flashing water that runs down the outside of the chimney
will also run behind the step flashing and into the attic.
Roofers frequently just cover the step flashing with tar to
keep water out. This may work for a couple years, but it is
a temporary solution and will need constant maintenance to
keep it sealed as tar and caulk separate and crack over time.
It is a maintenance issue which will need on-going attention.
Another flashing problem I see regularly is new roofing
material improperly installed over old flashing. A new roof
may last for 15 to 25 years but flashing improperly installed
is a temporary solution and will most likely fail before the
roofing material. The permanent solution is to properly install
the right kind of flashing at the chimney and all the vents