Summer storms can bring sweet relief to the intense summer heat, but with the rain, many people also can experience water entering their homes. The most common reasons that water can enter a home (usually through a crawlspace or basement) is due either to water runoff from the roof or water runoff not correctly diverted away from the foundation of the home.
Let’s start with water runoff from the roof. The best (and most cost-effective) way to avoid water runoff from the roof from entering the basement or crawlspace is to install gutters and downspouts. Installation of these on a home drastically decreases the chance of water entering the home. However, the presence of these alone do not guarantee a dry basement or crawlspace all the time. If water damage has occurred with gutters and downspouts installed, then the gutter should be checked for clogging and all leaves and debris should be removed to aid in more complete water drainage. It is recommended to do this yearly or even more frequently if the home is near a lot of trees. Additionally, all gutters should be installed so that they are draining towards the gutter downspouts, and downspout extensions should be installed at the bottom of the downspouts to divert water away from the foundation. Lack of these simple items could lead to water damage in the home.
Another common reason for flooding in a home can be due to the slope of the property. If the lot or the hard surface around the home is not properly graded, then water will flow towards the foundation, thus leading to water intrusion and flood damage. The foundation walls of homes are made of porous masonry materials, which allows water to easily pass through these materials. If there is a negative slope in the grade of the property, adding landscaping and/or additional drainage to divert the water away from the foundation will help keep water from entering the home. One such landscaping feature could be the addition of a swale in the yard, which is a long, sloping, low-lying area that works to collect rain water and direct water away from the house. Other potential landscaping ideas (depending on the severity of the flooding) include building a retaining wall, creating a raised flower bed or creating a barrier with landscaping rocks or timbers. In some cases, water proofing materials or barriers can be installed on the exterior of the foundation walls to stop water intrusion.
Another potential way for water to enter the home is through the ground. If the ground on the exterior of the foundation walls is saturated with water, then the water will naturally move to drier ground until that area also becomes saturated. Some of the most common reasons associated with water entering a crawlspace or basement through the ground include: water runoff not correctly diverted away from the foundation, lack of gutters and downspouts, gutters full of leaves and debris, and irrigation systems spraying onto foundation walls and/or saturating the ground next to the foundation walls. To resolve these issues, move or divert all water away from the foundation, and then install a plastic vapor barrier over all the exposed ground in the crawlspace.
Not only can water entering a crawlspace or basement cause immediate damage to the flooring and items in the home (as in the case of flooding in a basement), but it can also promote rapid decay, and lead to conditions which are conducive to mold and or fungus growth. This in turn can lead to a whole host of additional issues to deal with, including remediation and potential health issues due to mold growth. In most all cases, it is strongly recommended to control water runoff and to divert water away from the exterior of the foundation walls of your home prior to damage occurring versus waiting and trying to control or remove water once it enters the interior of the foundation walls. Once water enters the home, the damage is done and repairs can be extensive, costly and time-consuming.