Heavy rain can cause permanent damage to your property and disrupt your life.
Rain damage can be one of the costliest repairs to a home due to its devastating effect on foundations and contribution to mold developement. Mold starts growing on rain damage areas within 24 hours. Exposure to mold can cause health problems for some people by irritating the nose, eyes throat or lungs. Breathing airborne mold may trigger symptoms in those with hay fever, asthma and allergies.
Heavy rain can overwhelm your home’s gutters and downspouts and saturate the soil around your foundation. Even if your house is properly waterproofed, hard-driving rain can seep through windows, doors, and attic vents.
And potential water intrusion to your home can become an expensive problem if you don’t remedy it right away. Below are a few steps to conduct a thorough post-storm inspection and protect your property from heavy rain damage and to ensure the safety of your home and family before it becomes a major issue.
Check Carpets, Rugs and Wood Floors
The sooner you start cleaning up after water damage, the sooner you can stop mold from growing under your carpet. If rainwater pushed through open or unsealed windows, or pooled under a doorway and onto your carpets, rugs, and hardwood floors, you need to dry those areas as quickly as possible.
Remove any rain-soaked area rugs so there’s no contact between the wet fibers and the floor, and either wash and dry them yourself.
Carpet & Wood Floors:
Mold loves moistures and will start to grow under a damp carpet within 24 to 48 hours, so immediate attention is critical.
Solid hardwood floors also soak up moisture like a sponge. If wood panels absorb too much water, they will warp by bulging in the middle or “cupping” at the edges. While some panels will recover over time, others will have to be refinished or replaced.
Follow these steps to dry them out fast:
- Soak up standing water with mops and towels or use a wet/dry vacuum to clean up as much water as soon as possible.
- Open doors and windows to create cross-ventilation.
- Direct as many fans as possible on the affected areas. Set a box fan in the entry door and have it pull air from the area for a few days to speed the drying process.
- If you have a dehumidifier, set it on its most powerful setting and let it run.
- Steam clean carpet and flooring
Steam clean all carpets to properly sanitize and deodorize. Typically, water-damaged carpet padding must be replaced. Replacing just the padding is much less expensive than having to re-carpet your entire home.
- Sanitize walls and baseboards
Anything touched by storm water should be sanitized. Clean all walls, hard-surface floors and other household surfaces with soap and water.
Sanitize them with a sanitize solution. Remember to wear rubber gloves during cleanup.
- Check furniture
Look for water damage and remove furniture from wet flooring. Water damage can easily be hidden underneath rugs or carpet, so be sure to give your home a thorough inspection if you suspect water damage.
Inspect the Attic
Heavy rain and wind can drive water up into your attic vents. This can soak the inside of your house.
If your roof leaks during heavy rain, it’s important to find the cause of the problem as soon as possible. Shearing winds can rip off shingles, sideways-blowing rain can pass right through ventilation panels. Falling tree limbs can cause serious structural damage.
Check the Insulation
In an unfinished attic, the biggest issue is wet insulation. It will soak up and hold moisture, creating an ideal breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Wet insulation resting against a wood subfloor can also lead to rot.
If you find a section of wet insulation, pull it out immediately and run a fan and dehumidifier in the affected area before laying down a replacement section.
Check the Vents
Not all vents and soffits can withstand the rain. Heavy rain and wind can drive water up into your attic vents. This can soak the inside of your house.
Examine the Walls
Walls can also sustain water damage in heavy rains. Standing water poses the biggest threat to walls. A flooded basement, if not drained quickly, will soak the bottom few inches of drywall and plaster, which are difficult materials to dry. In that case, the damaged sections will need to be removed and replaced.
Especially sections below leaky windows, that are repeatedly exposed to moisture home, can sustain rain water damage.
Look for wall surfaces that exhibit signs of water damage, such as:
- Stains or discoloring wall.
- Bubbling wall paint.
- Peeling wallpaper.
Call in a professional to identify the source of the leak, then remove and replace any damaged sections of drywall or plaster. Also, pay attention to the insulation inside the wall cavity. If it gets wet, it should also be removed and replaced, but dry out the cavity as much as possible with fans first.
Check Gutters and Downspouts
One of the most common sources of water damage is rainwater that pools around the foundation of a home. Over time, that water can seep into the poured concrete and form cracks and weak points that let even more water pass through. Properly functioning gutters and downspouts are your best protection against such damage.
A gutter cleaning during rainy seasons will prevent dangerous overflow.
Follow the steps on what to look for in a gutter and downspout inspection:
- Make sure the gutters are free of leaves and debris.
- Make sure that the openings to all downspouts are clear.
- Use a garden hose to check that water flows easily.
If necessary, extend downspouts so they empty at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation.