This information provides home repair “red flags” to look for to ensure that your family is safe, and to prevent costly damage to your home. This information is not intended to scare homeowners but emphasize the importance of these issues.
Each season, inspect the following areas of your home for signs of damage from rainwater.
Attic ventilation is the process of maintaining a steady, high volume of air movement through the attic. This unused section of the house needs to be as cool and dry as possible throughout the year. During cold months, too much moisture in attics can cause mold, mildew, wood rot, ice dams, and can attract insects. During warm months, heat in attics can cause roof and structural damage, and energy loss. Ventilation is a necessary and important part of maintaining your home, but improving ventilation conditions often can be achieved with low to moderate costs.
“Mold” and “mildew” are general terms to describe growths of fungi on various surfaces. Mold is often thicker and black, green, red, or blue in color. Mold releases tiny spores, which are sometimes toxic, that rise in the air throughout the home. Mold is often found in walls, basements, crawl spaces, and other permanent structures. Mildew usually is lighter, powdery and gray or white. Mildew is more often found on wallpaper and fabrics. Both mold and mildew thrive in humid environments.
Bathrooms are common areas to find mold and mildew since they are often damp, and may not have adequate ventilation. It’s important that bathroom fans (and other exhaust fans installed in your home) are vented to the outside. They should not vent into a wall, attic, or any other enclosed space. Mold is often found in walls, basements, crawl spaces, and other permanent structures. Mildew is more often found on wallpaper and fabrics.
No matter how clean the home is maintained, mold and mildew can grow year round in any home. Keeping areas dry is the main preventative measure. Not only can humidity cause fungi to grow, areas affected by uncontrolled rainwater or plumbing leaks are prime sources of fungi growth.
Ignoring a mold problem can lead to expensive home damage. The first step is identifying the source of water and correcting it by incorporating specific waterproofing methods. Depending on the type of mold and the extent of its growth, a professional mold removal service may be needed.
Water pressure in the ground is one of the most common causes for cracking, bulging, and bowing walls and foundations. Excess water pressure is typically caused from poor control of rainwater because of an ineffective gutter system. It can push upwards (hydrostatic pressure), or push laterally against a wall. In winter months, moisture freezes and expands. If there’s enough water in the ground, the freezing process puts pressure on the wall, which can cause cracks in the wall. On the other end of the spectrum, drought conditions can cause the soil beneath the foundation to contract, which causes shifting, settling, and cracking. Once it cracks, it continues to move with changes in the seasons. Other conditions like intrusive tree roots, soil type, building materials, and age of the home can affect the foundation. Possible issues with a foundation should be inspected by a Certified Foundation Stabilization specialist.