As the state of Florida heads into the most active part of the Atlantic hurricane season – August, September, and early October – most Floridians find themselves watching the news more often or checking their weather apps for the latest tropical info. This is the time of year when terms like “projected path,” “cone of probability,” and “spaghetti model” take on greater significance than at other times of year.
Typically, when people think about hurricane-related damage to their homes, they imagine uprooted trees falling on the house or high winds that damage the roof. And while those are definitely a cause for concern, an often-overlooked danger is all the rain a hurricane or tropical storm can bring. When all that water is combined with the high winds of a slow-moving storm, large amounts of water can get into your house through the soffits or through openings that appear when roof shingles are damaged or blown away.
While soffits and roof damage are the most likely weak spots for a water intrusion event, there are plenty of other potential entry points as well. For some of them, there are steps a homeowner can take to reduce the risk and minimize the damage. And because it only takes about 24 hours for dangerous mold to start growing after water has entered the home, it’s worth taking some of these precautionary steps.
Check for gaps caused by loose stucco or mortar around hose bibs
Over long periods of time, the material around your hose bibs can crack and crumble away because it expands and contracts with the temperature. This is basically the same process that causes cracks in sidewalks, driveways, and asphalt. And it doesn’t take a huge opening to let water in, especially if the wind is driving the rain against that side of the house. It’s a fairly easy DIY project to fill those gaps with caulk or a cement stucco repair product available at any home improvement store.
Inspect the exterior paint if it’s more than a few years old
Even the best paint doesn’t last forever, and as paint deteriorates, it can become more and more penetrable. That means rainwater can soak right through the paint and into the walls without you realizing it. The best way to check is to run your fingers along the exterior of the house when it’s dry and see if it leaves a chalky substance on your fingertips. If it does, you may be due for a new paint job.
Clean and patch gutters and downspouts if needed
At some point before a major storm, do a perimeter check of your home while it’s raining and see if water is spilling over the sides of the gutters or leaking through the seams, especially at the corners. You can also look at the ground and see where there are clear signs showing where a lot of water is hitting, such as the absence of grass. If you’re not comfortable getting up on your roof or on a ladder, find a professional gutter cleaning and repair company to service them safely.
Check where the dirt meets the wall all around your home
It’s important that the dirt slope away from the exterior walls of the house so that water doesn’t pool up against the house during a heavy rain. If the water drains toward the house, it has nowhere to run off and just sits there until it evaporates. Over time, that water will find even the smallest hole or crack and work its way through the concrete, expanding the opening as it does. During a tropical storm or hurricane, the wind and high volume of water intensify the problem.
At Healthy Home Environmental Services, we can perform a comprehensive inspection of your home after the storm has passed if you have any concerns about water intrusion. Also, we frequently work with the homeowner’s public adjuster or attorney, supporting them in dealing with your insurance company. We are then happy to refer you to a quality mold remediation company if necessary.
For more information about the services we provide at Healthy Home Environmental Services or to make an appointment, please call 407-395-4549 or request more information on our website.