Water, water, every where

I say it at every inspection, “90% of the problems I see at a home inspection are related to water”: Roof leaks, wet basements, cracked foundation walls. leaking plumbing pipes, holes in the exterior siding, condensation in the attic, and on and on. Water causes structural damage as it causes decay of wood products that do not have a natural or man-made resistance to water penetration. Water and moisture are the main ingredients of mold production. So let’s keep water out of the house.

A major source of water infiltration into the house is water flowing off the grade and water running off the roof. Water running off the roof falls onto the grade, splashes off the siding, and eventually flows into the basement and around the foundation. Soil type, age of the house, type of foundation drain, and whether or not there is a sump or not, all influence how the house will be affected by the water.

How much water runs off the roof in a rain storm? 1,000 square feet of roof surface that receives 1 inch of rain equals 623 gallons of water. If you don’t have working rain gutters, all of the water falls off the roof and adversely affects the home. Worse, if a downspout or leader extension is missing, all of the water is concentrated in a small area. Typically the downspout is placed on a corner of the home, which is the most vulnerable portion of the foundation to water infiltration.

A functional gutter, downspout, and leader extension are necessary to keep water away from the home. The leader extension should move water at least 6 feet away from the house. The water should eventually drain to daylight, that is, on to the ground so that it can evaporate. If the leader extension is buried, it should not be too deep in the ground to interfere with that evaporation.

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