How Rain Affects Your Home
Rainfall is great for your lawn, garden and any trees on your property. Your home? Not so much. Yes, houses are designed to withstand the elements, including heavy rainfall. But rain can still cause damage when, for example, it accumulates near the foundation or seeps in through cracks, an unmaintained roof, or poorly sealed windows or doors.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent or mitigate rainwater damage to your home. Whether you’re worried about rainwater damage or have seen signs of it inside or on your house, we’re here to help. Read on to understand how rain can affect your home, how to protect your property and what to do about existing water damage.
How Can Rain Damage Your Home?
Preventing rainwater damage starts with understanding the different ways rain can harm your home. These include:
- Water leaks and basement flooding
- Foundation cracks
- Roof deterioration
- Sewer backups
- Mould and mildew growth
Water Leaks and Basement Flooding
Loose siding, old caulking around windows or exterior doors, damaged roof tiles and poor flashing are just a few ways rainwater can enter your home. Once inside, the water can cause major issues for your walls, ceilings and floors that will only worsen if left untreated.
Basements are particularly susceptible to damage because, when it rains, the soil around your foundation absorbs and swells with rainwater. Because of this, you could experience water coming up through the floor after rainfall, which can lead to basement flooding. Rain can also enter your basement through poorly installed window wells.
As the soil around your home absorbs rainwater, it expands and puts pressure on the foundation. Over time this can cause cracks in the foundation that water can seep through. Besides being avenues for water, foundation cracks can also let in pests and cause structural issues down the line.
No roof lasts forever. But frequent, heavy rain will wear down your roof faster, damaging shingles and potentially seeping into the supporting structure.
Heavy rainfall can overwhelm municipal sewer systems, which can cause backups that push water — and sewage — up through your sinks and toilets.
Mould and Mildew Growth
It’s not just unsightly stains you need to worry about when rainwater gets into your home. Hazardous mould and mildew thrive in damp, dark places. If rainwater creates such conditions in your home, mould spores can land there and proliferate. Also susceptible to the formation of mould and mildew are your siding, foundation and any wooden structures on your property, such as a deck or fence.
How Can I Stop Rain Damage?
There are several ways to prevent rainwater accumulation or water leaking into your house from outside, including:
- Diverting water from your house
- Sealing windows and doors
- Installing a sump pump
- Keeping your eavestroughs and downspouts clear
- Maintaining your roof
- Installing water leak sensors
Divert Water From Your House
A sure way to lower the likelihood of flooding and foundation damage is to keep the water away from your home. Your eavestroughs and downspouts are built for this, but aren’t always properly angled or able to move water far enough away to prevent issues. Ensure your eavestroughs are pitched correctly and extend any downspouts that cause water to pool too close to your home. Downspout extenders come in various lengths and even accordion-styles, letting you expand and direct the spout to meet your needs.
Your property grading will also play a role in diverting rainwater and preventing accumulation. You may be able to address unideal sloping through landscaping, or by adding features like a “swale” (a narrow trench water can flow through) or a “dry well” (a hole in the ground that will fill with excess water to prevent pooling). It’s possible to do this yourself, but best to consult a professional to ensure an effective flow.
Seal Windows and Doors
Whether due to improper installation or deterioration over time, sealing on your windows and exterior doors can be an entry point for rain. Replace sealant and weather stripping at the first sign of water leakage. For extra protection, consider sealing from the inside of the window or door as well.
Of course, it’s usually hard to know when sealant isn’t up to the task until after water has gotten in. For a more proactive approach, you can use smart home window and door sensors to identify points of entry for rainwater as soon as possible.
Install a Sump Pump
If flooding is a problem where you live or your home is prone to accumulating water, installing a sump pump may be a good investment. A sump pump sits in a basin at the lowest point in your house, below the foundation. As rainwater saturates the soil beneath your foundation, it will fill the basin and submerge the sump pump. When the water level in the basin gets high enough, the sump pump will detect this and automatically pump water from your house and into a safe drainage area.
Clear Debris From Gutters
Leaves, twigs and other debris can clog your eavestrough or downspouts and prevent water from passing through. With nowhere to go, that water will flow back and potentially leak through your roof and soffits. Clean your eavestroughs and downspouts regularly to avoid this — once in the spring, once in the fall. Gutter guards can help keep debris from your eavestrough, but some amount of cleaning may still be required even with them.
Maintain Your Roof
Roofs can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years, depending on materials. For example, an asphalt-shingle roof can last 15 to 30 years before needing replacement, whereas more durable metal shingles carry an expected lifespan of 30 to 45 years. As your roof reaches the end of its lifespan, be sure to consult with a professional to determine if it’s time to replace it.
Even before your roof approaches its end of life, damage can still occur to shingles or other parts that can let rainwater in. If you notice any water stains or bubbles on your ceilings or walls, inspect your roof for leaks or call in a roofer to fix the problem.
Install Home Sensors
Water leak sensors, like the Enercare Smarter Home® water leak sensor, are among the many smart home solutions now on the market. Installed under sinks, next to water heaters or anywhere else water might accumulate, these sensors can alert you to leaks early so you can address the issue and prevent significant damage. Installing these may even qualify you for a discount on your home insurance premiums.
How Do I Treat Existing Water Damage?
You’ve identified and addressed any leaks or flooding in your home and done your best to prevent future problems. Now, what do you do about the water damage?
You can call your insurance company to determine if the water damage is covered. If so, ask them how to proceed. The first step might be to take clear pictures of all the affected areas to support your claims.
If the water damage is minor or old, you may be able to repair it yourself. In more severe cases, the best move is to call in a local water damage restoration service. Professionals will have the knowledge and experience to ensure any damage is properly addressed.