Always be prepared, it should be everyone’s motto, especially everyone who owns a home. Last July we wrote about being prepared “Before the Threat*” and how you can protect yourself in the event of wildfires.
PREMIER A Homeowners Guide | Homeowner News
Preparing for Rain
By Teri De Phillips
Always be prepared, it should be everyone’s motto, especially everyone who owns a home. Last July we wrote about being prepared “Before the Threat*” and how you can protect yourself in the event of wildfires. Now, following a year that has been marked by drastic weather, we want to help you prepare your home for rainy season. Flooding is America’s most common and costly natural disaster and even in idyllic San Diego rain and water cause millions of dollars in home damage every year. Be prepared!
*(go to www.SanDiegoPremier.net Digital edition July 2010 to read the full article)
Roofs and Gutters
One of the most important things to do and a great place to start is to clean your homes gutters, roof and floor drains of any debris. Branches, tree leaves and dirt become heavy and disruptive if left unattended and clogged gutters can cause the rain water to overflow, seeping into your homes foundation and woodwork causing costly damage.
Equally important is having your roof inspected for broken or shifted tiles. The ideal time to fix your roof is before the rainy season starts but it is never too late. It is recommended that you have your roof inspected yearly in order to catch leaks and issues early. A roof can be leaking for 2 to 4 years before you ever see evidence inside the home and by that time there could be fungus, dry rot, and insulation damage requiring major repair. Be sure to ask your roofing contractor about any tax rebates available for using Energy Star rated roofing materials.
Another important way to avoid damage in the rainy season is to make sure that all of your windows and doors not only close properly but are also sufficiently caulked and sealed. Even slight cracks can allow water to seep through and cause mold, water rings or discoloration. In fact, mold can begin to form in less than 72 hours in a wet or moist environment causing costly damage and even health issues. Many window companies have professional mold inspectors who can find and fix potential leaks before the rain even starts.
Mudslides and Retaining Walls
Mudslides rushing down rain-sodden slopes and gullies are widely recognized as a hazard to human life and property. Most mudslides are localized in small gullies, threatening only those homes in their direct path, but slides can burst out of the soil on almost any rain-saturated hill when rainfall is heavy enough and they often occur without warning.
It is a tragic fact that mudslides often strike areas that have been affected by wild fires and valuable vegetation has burned away. If you live down-slope in an area that has seen wildfires, be aware of the potential for slope failure until new growth rebinds the soil.
One step a homeowner can take to help prevent mudslides is to properly control the flow of water onto slopes. If steep cuts or fills occur below the discharge points of runoff water from streets, downspouts, or similar drainage facilities onto a slope, it may be wise to obtain advice from an engineering geologist or erosion control specialist. In some cases, walls can be built to deflect potential mudflows away from or around structures. To be effective, diversion walls must be properly designed and regularly maintained.
There are also things that every homeowner can do off of their property to help prepare for the rainy season. Ask your local zoning office if your home is above or below sea level and call your local city hall to request clean up in areas you think would be disruptive if left unattended during a heavy rainstorm. Another great tactic is to “map out” your cities weak spots and note which streets flood more heavily than others. The next time there is a heavy rain you will immediately know which streets to avoid and alternate routes allowing you safe and easy routes home.
While taking preventative measures is the best line of defense, there are going to be times when even the most carefully laid plans fail. This is when it’s of the utmost importance to have all of your important documents sealed in a waterproof case of some kind. Social security cards, passports, and all insurance documents should be included. If you live in a below-sea-level area make sure you are properly covered and have an inventory list of all household items that could be damaged.
Hopefully, this year’s rainy season will be manageable for all of us here in San Diego County. After all, we need rain. Maintaining our water reserve levels is critical and Southern California continues to face significant water supply challenges. With this in mind, Rainwater Collection is a wonderful way to conserve water, while being fun too! There are beautiful as well as functional products to assist you in rainwater collecting and harvesting. What better way to teach our children about preserving our natural resources.
Other Helpful Tips
Lower the water level in your swimming pool to prevent overflow and turn off automated sprinklers to reduce drainage onto the street and help prevent drain back-ups.
Stocking up on sand bags is a smart idea, especially if you live in an area where mudslides and flash floods typically occur, as they are instrumental in redirecting the flow of unwanted rushing water. Sand bags are available at various unincorporated fire stations in San Diego County. Homeowners can contact the San Diego County department of public works for more information.
Public Service Agencies also recommend that every homeowner prepares an emergency flood kit. The kit should include a flashlight, spare batteries, extra bottled water, a 10 x 10 tarp, and dry goods to eat.
A great tool to have on hand is a floor squeegee to push unwanted water towards a drain and away from your home.