Living in a rainy climate like Vancouver can be challenging when trying to maintain your property. Water is a home’s number one enemy and can result in wood rot, leaks, mold, and basement flooding. Regular maintenance and upkeep are key to preventing water damage. Here are some tips for maintaining your home in a rainy climate.
Pay Attention to the Gutters
It starts with choosing a gutter system that takes into account the size of the roof, its steepness, and the climate zone you live in. Most Vancouver homes are adequately protected by 5-inch gutters. However, if the roof is steep, you might need a larger gutter system. Systems such as 6-inch gutters or super 5” gutters are designed to handle more rainwater. If you can’t replace the gutter system right away, consider installing new and larger downspouts.
The gutters are your home’s first defense against water damage. Rainwater flows off the roof and into the gutters. The gutters and downpipes must be clear of debris for the gutter system to prevent water from overflowing into the soffit and fascia or running down the siding. Cleaning the gutters regularly and inspecting them for leaks and other types of damage after active weather is important to maintaining your home in our Pacific Northwest climate.
Check for the Roof for Leaks
If watermarks or dark stains appear on the ceilings of the rooms of your home it is one of the first signs that either the gutter system or the roof or both are leaking. When leaks aren’t identified and repaired as soon as they are discovered they typically get worse, resulting in mold and mildew, flooding, and worst-case scenario, a collapsed ceiling.
Go outside with a pair of binoculars. Scan the roof for any damaged areas. Look for patches of discolouration, chimney damage, and loose, missing, cracked or curled roofing shingles, which can be telltale signs of where water might be allowed to enter.
Fix Windows and Doors
If you feel drafts from windows or gaps from around and/or underneath entry doors this can be the result of aging windows and doors, loose-fitting window panes, or entry doors that no longer open and close properly. When cold air comes in and warm air escapes, it is also possible for water and moisture to infiltrate your home. Reseal windows and entry doors to prevent even the smallest amount of moisture from getting in.
Inspect the Foundation
Have the foundation professionally inspected once every two years. But if you notice any of the following, call someone as soon as possible: they will advise you on what is serious enough to repair immediately and what can wait. You will be looking for:
- Cracks in the basement’s concrete floor
- Cracks appearing on the foundation (exterior walls)
- Cracks appearing on the interior walls of the foundation/basement
- The soil shifting around the house
- Doors and windows don’t close properly
- Water pooling underneath the downspout or around the foundation
Repairing cracks in a foundation is helpful as a short-term measure when the budget doesn’t allow for a permanent fix. But don’t wait too long – once a foundation starts settling, it tends to continue shifting, causing the cracks to become deeper and more pronounced.
Be Proactive with your Basement
Talk to anyone whose basement has flooded and they’ll be sure to tell you that it’s one of the worst things a homeowner can experience. Be proactive and prepare for flooding before it happens. Things you can do to minimize the effects of a flooded basement include:
- Installing a sump pump to remove rainwater, groundwater, and accumulated moisture
- Keeping the gutters clean and the downspouts unblocked
- Sealing up cracks around basement windows and fixing loose glass panes
- Storing as many items as you can up off the floor including the TV and other electronic devices
- Investing in some type of leak sensor – there are ones that will send alerts to your phone when moisture levels become elevated