Summer is that time of the year for those who close their crawlspace vents during the winter to open them up. It’s best not to close vents at all. If your pipes are insulated or there is no plumbing in your crawlspace, there is no reason to close them. Vents are there to allow your crawlspace to breath year around not just during the summer.
If you have not checked your crawlspace vents, take a walk around the house and remove anything that might be blocking them, including the ground itself. Make sure there are no areas where water can pool next to the these vents and that the grading is sloping away. This 10 minute walk could end up saving you thousands in repair work down the road!
How long has it been since you inspected your crawlspace? Most home owners never enter let alone inspect it. A lot of moisture intrusion problems can be detected and fixed before serious damage occurs by inspecting your crawlspace.
Things to look for:
- Is there sufficient venting of the crawlspace (about 1 sq. ft of vent for every 150 sq. ft. of crawlspace, but check your local codes as some areas differ)?
- Standing water.
- Is there a vapor barrier installed and if so is it in good shape?
- Is there any insulation hanging down, touching the ground, or missing pieces?
- Look for signs of plumbing leaks: i.e. staining on floor joists, sub-flooring, water pooling under plumbing locations.
- Vegetation growing.
- Excessive debris.
- Look for evidence of mold on the lumber.
If you’re not willing or able to inspect your crawlspace, it would be money well spent to have a local contractor do it for you. Give him/her this list and have them check it out and tell them to take a lot of pictures for you to review.
Believe it or not spring is a good time to clean your gutters again. After fall cleaning, the last remaining leaves and debris collect and plug them up. Check all downspouts for clearance and make sure the extensions are 3-5 ft. long to take water away from your foundation. If you have a basement or crawlspace, this is vital as these two areas are a leading factor for water intrusion and mold problems in homes.
If you do not have gutters and downspouts, you might consider having them installed. All rain water that comes off the roof ends up next to your foundation. Homes with crawlspaces and basements risk having water enter those spaces. If your home is on a slab foundation, the water will saturate the concrete and increase the moisture levels inside your home.
When is the best time to inspect your roof for leaks? When it’s raining, right? But that’s the last place you want to be when it is raining. Most roof leaks can be detected from inside your attic. (So on a lazy Saturday afternoon when you are looking outside through the rain wondering what you could be doing, inspect my attic should pop into your mind).
When it’s raining attics tend to be cooler and it’s best to inspect them during daylight hours so you can make sure your attic vents are open. Use a high power LED flashlight to look for leaks. The LED lights pick up water trails better than incandescent lights. Make sure to check around all roof penetrations such as chimneys, vent pipes, power vents from bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room fans. Inspect your roof and dormer ridges. Look for discolored spots on the insulation directly under any roof penetrations.
If any leaks are found, make a mental note of the exact location of the leak so when the weather is good enough to repair it you won’t have to enter the attic again before repairing the leak. Make sure that you check that spot again in the attic when it’s raining to make sure you stopped the leak. Or you could use a garden hose and have someone spray water on the area while you check inside the attic. Attics should be inspected at least once a year.
If you have a vacation home, it is important to have it inspected weekly for leaks, etc. In addition all plumbing lines, the HVAC system(s), the water heater(s) and drain pans should be checked for leaks and corrosion monthly.Also, any time a power outage occurs, the property should be checked as this could result in the HVAC system being turned off. This can be done by a neighbor or friend. Just have someone do a quick check of the plumbing areas. If possible, have the water main turned off. If a leak goes unchecked for months at a time, the damage and associated costs can be extreme.