April showers might bring May flowers, but they can also bring homeowners big headaches: flooded basements, damaged HVAC and electrical equipment, and problems with mold.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to eliminate or reduce the risk of water damage to your home.
Examine basement walls for cracks or obvious signs of leaks. There are a number of compounds on the market that can be used to seal smaller cracks, including cement/rubber blends, paints, and epoxies. Larger cracks should be examined and repaired by a licensed contractor, as they could signal a weakness in the home’s structural integrity.
Ensure that gutters and downspouts are clean, and that the spouting directs water away from the base of the house so that it won’t pool around the foundation. Clogs can send gushers of rainwater down the side of your home, where it can seep into walls and windows, wash away the ground around the foundation, and find its way into the basement.
Make sure the ground around the foundation slopes away from your house. If not, water can collect around the base of your home and find a way in.
Ensure that all HVAC equipment in the basement is elevated, or has a floodwall constructed around it. Any electrical components, such as fuse boxes, circuit breakers or outlets, should be raised at least a foot above the basement floor.
Know where you live: Are you in a flood zone? Could that little stream in your backyard turn into a raging torrent after a downpour? Does your lawn practically turn into a swamp every time it rains? You might want to consider installing sump pumps and/or having the entire basement waterproofed. And be sure to check that your insurance policy covers flood damage.
Check to see that any fuel tanks, such as those used to store heating oil, are anchored. Floodwaters can easily carry away or tip fuel tanks, making cleanup more difficult – and more hazardous – while also polluting groundwater systems.
Finally, remember that before doing any work, you should check with your local municipality regarding building codes and permits. And if you’re going to be doing any digging, contact Pennsylvania’s One Call system by dialing 811 first to find out what’s underground.