One of the greatest issues I find by far is a negative slope around the home. If the home is well built it is possible that the soil next to the wall can handle this onslaught of water but most do not. The result of course is water intrusion into the basement. I want to help those of you that are concerned to get prepared for the spring melt when it arrives. Preparation for the inevitable is smart, trying to deal with a disaster as its happening is almost always futile. So get ready now. Below I will give you a few hints that may help.
First of all I recommend that you take advantage of the nice mild days to get out in the yard and move some of the snow back away from the house. If your home is like mine you may have a large deck that is buried in three feet of snow. Often I have to report that the slope under the deck is toward the home. This means that when the snow on the deck melts water is going to lay up against the home until it can run off somewhere. Unless you are confident that this is not a concern for you, I suggest you move the snow now to an area that you are sure will run away from your home.
Secondly make sure that the eaves troughs and downspouts are in good condition and ready to handle the melting when it arrives. The most common problem with downspouts is that they may be frozen in the ground or below ground. I recommend that you examine the drainage paths and make sure the drains are open to the sun where they can defrost on the warm days. Draining water from your roof to underground piping is not advisable in our climate as it will surely freeze and cause the water to pool next to the home.
Remember that water management around your home is a critical component to keeping your basement dry. Please don’t rely on weeping tile to do its job because if it fails, it is too late to prevent a flood. Preventative maintenance is the best approach. Ask anyone who has had to deal with a basement flood and they will tell you it is not fun. Furthermore insurance companies will not pay for run off or seepage damage. Once the damage is done, mold becomes a real possibility and you don’t want to have to deal with the cost of remediating mold damage.
Finally for those of you that have a sump pump. I strongly suggest that you test it now. Just trip the float for a few seconds to hear it run. Even if there is no water in the sump you should test it. If you are one of the many homes in this area that rely on the sump to keep the basement dry then I suggest you have a backup sump ready to install if the first one fails. There are even some homes that I recommend having a generator or battery backup because the sump is all that keeps the water at bay.
I hope you find these steps helpful and as always feel free to ask Border Home Inspections any house related questions you need answers to. If I can’t answer the question I will try to find someone that can.