Down the hatch

Flooding in your crawlspace?

If you have a crawlspace, this is the best time of year to pop your head down the hatch  and have a gander. At the end of the snow melt, and with the spring rainy season underway, now is the time when the water table will be rising and your gutter and downspout system will be at work.

There are a number of circumstances that can cause a wet crawlspace, and they are usually related to something we are doing or haven’t done. 

First, it is ever so important that you have a well-designed and functional gutter and downspout system. It may be a surprise to learn that in our area, gutter and downspout systems are a voluntary method to protect our homes from water intrusion. 

One of the main purposes of your sloped roof is to move water off the structure. Your gutter system should catch roof surface runoff and send it to the downspout system where it should be diverted well away from the structure. 

Far too often I see plugged downspouts and gutters full of debris. Loose and sagging gutters can cause water to overflow and to deposit water directly at the foundation. 

Landscape grading is very important. Your landscaping should slope away (positive slope) from the structure, and experts tell us that the best drainage starts at a slope of 1” per foot for at least the first 6’ around the structure. Negative slope has the tendency to divert water back to the structure, where it has the potential to pond and infiltrate the sub-structure of your home.

Gardens and irrigation systems are often poorly planned. Our local garden centres are chock full of small and beautiful plants seeking their forever home. The tendency is to place these vulnerable little plants at the safest place possible for their protection – right against the structure of your home. Most of the plants purchased require water to survive, so irrigation is a must. 

In the end with these little plants, a plentiful water source is placed against the structure, resulting in a high potential for water intrusion. In addition, as the plants reach maturity they have the tendency to shade and hold moisture on siding components, which can cause deterioration. The plants can also become a highway for insects and rodents.

A failed plumbing system can also cause headache. Intermittent water events can occur on the waste side of your plumbing system. Continuous water events on the pressurized side of the system can leak for long periods until they are discovered. 

Dampness in crawlspaces can increase humidity, which can deteriorate the wooden structural and framing components located below grade. Wet conditions can foster mould and rot, and we should not forget that termites and other unwanted pests are attracted to the moisture.

Right now is one of the best times of year to inspect your crawlspace. Your gutter and downspouts have been active, your irrigation system is likely on, and your plumbing system is functional and pressurized. It’s definitely time to go down the hatch.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding, turn your home into a nicer more comfortable place to live, and increase its value.

Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, this column is here to guide you with useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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