November 1, 2002 (Palm Springs, Calif) — The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) advises homeowners that now is the time to "winterize" their homes.
The most destructive element to a home’s structural health is moisture infiltration through openings in the building envelope. Water is insidious in its efforts to find even the smallest crack and attack any and all cellulose materials, which includes the both exterior and interior coverings including the structural framing members — often resulting in "dry rot" (a misleading term because continual moisture contact with wood usually results in "wet rot" which is the breakdown of cellulose materials).
Another area of concern when dealing with moisture infiltration is pest infestation — the invasion of wood destroying insects, carpenter ants and wood eating beetles that thrive on cellulose materials. And of course, moisture problems can also lead to mold.
If your home has inadequate grade slope away from the perimeter foundation, there may be the possibility of water intrusion into the foundation’s crawl space area, which can be compounded if the home contains below grade rooms and storage areas.
The most common means of moisture intrusion noted by home inspectors in California are through the following avenues gaining entry below the structure; worn roof coverings; deteriorated roof vent flashing serving both plumbing fixtures and mechanical equipment; improperly installed or worn chimney flashing; and doors and windows that have not been properly weather sealed.
Below is a simple list of maintenance tasks for the homeowner to perform to help prevent moisture infiltration both into and below their homes
- Clean all rain gutters, including downspouts, and make sure all gutter joints are properly sealed.
- Insure that rain gutter downspouts are directed away from the perimeter foundation. This may take adding some corrugated plastic extension piping you can purchase at your local home store.
- Check to see there are no low areas around the home’s perimeter foundation where water can collect after a rainstorm. Standing water will eventually work its way beneath the home and can lead to building settlement and foundation support failure.
- Carefully check all of your exterior doors and windows and adjacent trim to see if they need any application of exterior type epoxy or sealants.
- Immediately after the first heavy rain, check under your house to confirm that the ground is reasonably dry.
If you think the surface grade around the perimeter foundation is a source for concern and more than you can fix with a garden shovel, consult a state licensed drainage contractor for their recommendations – they will provide a cost estimate for corrective work which may include the installation of an underground drainage system.
This real estate bulletin is brought to you by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA). Since 1976, CREIA, a non-profit voluntary membership organization has been providing education, training, and support services to the real estate inspection industry and to the public. Inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed by the association. These Standards of Practice have been recognized by the State of California, and are considered the source for Home Inspector Standard of Care by the real estate and legal communities.
CREIA requires its members to successfully pass a written test of property systems and complete 30 hours of education each year. Members can accumulate credits through various sources of education including monthly chapter meetings, conferences, and other approved activities. CREIA keeps records to ensure that members are complying with the requirements. Educational topics cover a variety of technical subjects including updates and advances that affect property inspection and the business of real estate inspection. CREIA is dedicated to consumer protection and education. To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you, click here.