June 04, 2013

How Water Damage Can Affect Your Home

It’s the rainy season in New England and your home could be in danger of rot. If your house isn’t properly maintained and protected then the potential for costly water damage could be leering in the structure of your home. To make matters worse many homes built in the 80’s and 90’s have a much higher risk of water rot within the structure for several reasons. Some homes have a lack of proper flashing. Homes built in these era’s can have whats called weather tightness failure. Also in this time period newer cheaply made materials were used, and there was no research done as to the soundness of structural integrity of these materials. In this article we hope to clarify some of these issues and give some solutions to preventing and hindering the damages and how you can further protect your home.

Water Damage in New Homes

One major reason newer homes built within the last couple of decades are experiencing vast rotting issues is because of weather tightness failure. Structures built too tightly, not giving space for water to evaporate. There was a change in the way houses were built starting in 80’s in response to the energy crisis of the 70’s. Houses were constructed more tightly to reduce energy costs and to make them more comfortable but this method of building unknowingly created a huge problem for some homes.  Rain had always been an issue for houses, but unlike the walls in older homes, today’s walls are much tighter together and tend to hold moisture.

To continue making matters worse new engineered wood products replaced traditional wood boards for construction. These new building materials where made out of wood chips and glue. These materials where strong and they make use of forest remnants which helped to keep up with development demands. The drawback is if water gets behind a wall and can’t get out because there is not enough spacing for evaporation then water just sits there. Trapped water saturates the inner walls now made of compresses wood chips and glue. A science experiment now takes place were the homes sheathing becomes a moist Petr i-dish. This environment can create mold and rot that feeds further deterioration of the house until the sheathing gets spongy and crumbles like a chocolate chip cookie in milk.

Water Damage from Rainwater

Rainwater is a big culprit, leaking into walls around windows, doors, decks and roofs and it is the major cause for water getting into the house. With adequate flashing around these areas of your home it will help to prevent moister from seeping in. Lack of flashing or inadequate flashing on houses will progress the likely hood of water damage. Many newer and larger homes, with more wall space and in some cases twice as many windows as older homes, require more maintenance. Homes may need fresh caulking around windows, doors and decks yearly to keep water out, especially where upper-story windows face driving rain. Caulking is not a permanent product so this should be part of a routine maintenance schedule.

Building scientists in the United States and Canada claim there’s a simple solution for the problem that seems to perplex so many people. It’s called a drainage plane, and flashing is an important component. Consider building a drainage system, while this is an extensive project it is defiantly not as extensive as having to rip your home apart due to water rot. It does involve digging a trench, laying filter fabric, layering crushed stone and a perforated pipe and covering. It is something to consider if you believe your house is in danger of water rot.

Looking for Water Damage

There are some symptoms you will see if your house does have a serious water problem. If you have cracked or stained stucco especially under windows, decks and along the foundation.  Frequent maintenance of exterior painted surfaces or bulging, uneven siding. Unusual odors or musty or moldy smells, especially after it rains, check smell near electrical outlets. If your window leaks, look for stains in window corners and around the frame after rain. Room perimeters are damp or carpets are stained after rain. Look behind woodwork. Moisture in the rim-joist area. In unfinished basement areas, pull the insulation away at the rim-joist area (where the basement wall meets the ceiling) and check for moisture, rot and mushrooms. Water splashing or running down the walls or foundation, add gutters and downspouts to prevent this. Carpenter ants, these large black ants are attracted to wet wood. Seeing them or a pile of sawdust in your home is a warning sign. Though ants are common in this area so it is not necessarily a definite sign.

Some ways you can be prepared and prevent water damage would be to keep up with caulking around trim, light fixtures, nail holes in siding, and other penetration points. Make sure there is a moisture barrier behind window trim and where siding meets roof. Maintain flashing and caulking around windows. Make sure there is flashing where deck butts up against siding and edge of house.  Install sloping window sills and sill-drip pans. Have kick-out flashing where roof meets wall. Make sure any holes in the house wrap are sealed or taped. Install a drainage system and have a drainage plane inside the wall to let trapped water escape.


Sources of Reference From;

Consumer Build:  http://www.consumerbuild.org


Wiki How

Related Articular: timber.ce.wsu.edu/resources/papers/4-2-4.pdf‎  Washington state university- civil and environmental engineering