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Maintain, Drain, and Watch the Rain

Winter seems to be over, and the ground is saturated with snowmelt and rain. When it's quiet enough you can actually hear water percolating through the soil. Spring rains will bring even more moisture.

Saturated soils tend to settle, and the more recently your lot was developed or regraded, the more likely the soil will settle unevenly. It is an excellent time for homeowners to make sure all this water is draining properly -- and that means it should be draining AWAY from the foundation. Nobody likes a wet basement.

  • Address all leaks and floods promptly, however small they may seem.
  • Maintain exterior grade near foundation for drainage away from the house.
  • Clear leaves and other items from swales, culverts, and pathways.
  • Fill depressions that might hold water. This will keep water flowing away from the house and it will minimize the mosquito problem.
  • Adjust landscaping sprinklers to ensure that the house is not being watered along with your lawn and garden.
  • Make sure splashblocks are in place at downspouts, that the splashblocks are in good condition, and that they still direct water away from the house.
  • See if there is leakage at your hose bib (outdoor faucet) when you are using a hose. Inspect/replace the washers on your hoses periodically. Water from leaking hoses can run straight down your foundation wall.
  • Maintain gutters and downspouts in a clean and operating condition.
  • Check the condition of the eaves. Areas of deterioration or flaking paint on eaves indicate a problem with the gutters. This water problem can become serious very rapidly.
  • If you have a gravel driveway, fill the ruts and restore the "crown" to keep water running off the driveway. A big storm will destroy a gravel drive if all of the water drains through the two tire ruts.

And while you're at it:

  • Try out your air conditioning system. If you wait until the first hot day to check your AC, and it doesn't work, you will have a long, hot wait before the repair people can get to it. And they will be cranky by the time they get to your home.
  • Remember to inspect/replace HVAC filter monthly and have an annual service check on equipment. A properly tuned system can save a lot in energy bills.
  • Remove dead branches that may fall on your house.
  • Clean up fallen limbs, branches and other debris to discourage the proliferation of wood-eating insects.
  • Inspect/replace caulk on windows, doors, and other penetrations.
  • Check the condition of the exterior surfaces. Touch up any areas that need paint before they deteriorate further, and schedule a complete repainting if necessary.

Visit PATH's Site Work Rehab Guide and Chapter 3, Sheathing, of the Rehab Guide on Roofs. Also see PATH's previous Tips of the Month on Energy and Water Saving Landscaping, Weatherizing Your Home, and Moisture and Mold.

Other Related Resources


Durability By Design: A Guide for Residential Builders and Designers

Content updated on 9/13/2005

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