Springtime is always a welcome sight, especially after a winter of shoveling snow off of the walk and trying to keep ice away from your gutters. But the spring thaw and seasonal rains can introduce a fresh set of concerns for homeowners. Here are some steps you can take to keep your home healthy and its water system functional throughout the spring months.
French Drain Installation
If your lawn tends to become a swap after every spring rain, turn the tide by installing a French drain. This crude but effective drainage system consists of a trench filled with gravel. A perforated pipe at one end empties collected water into an acceptable place such as a well or drainage ditch.
Where you place your French drain depends on where you need to intercept and redirect the water. If you're trying to keep a basement from flooding, then you'll want to create a "moat" around your house to ensure that excess water doesn't reach the foundation. If you're trying to avoid the aforementioned swamp, then install the French drain at a higher level to catch the water at that point.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself dealing with more household drain problems than usual once the spring thaw rolls into your neighborhood. Odd noises, strange smells and substandard performance may indicate a clogged drain or sewer line situation. The latter becomes especially common during the spring months as dormant trees "wake up" and extend their roots -- sometimes directly into your sewer pipe. This not only damages the pipe, allowing precious water to escape into the soil, but also creates a major blockage that can prevent all your plumbing appliances from working properly. That's the main way you can tell at a glance whether you have a blocked sewer line or a blocked drain (which typically affects just one appliance).
It's important to take a proactive stance against these issues, especially since some of them can be more hazardous than you realize. That funny smell coming from your drain could just be trapped garbage, but if it smells like gas, you may have a potentially hazardous sewer line problem. To prevent these issues from developing, schedule a sewer and drain cleaning and inspection every spring. Hire a plumber in your area who can detect tree root damage by running a fiber optic cable into the sewer line. Routine household drain cleaning can also help your appliances provide smooth operation right on into summertime, when efficient water usage takes on even greater importance.
Mold Prevention Strategies
Spring means rain, and rain means mold. Mold and mildew thrive on damp organic surfaces, digesting wood and other substances that make up your beloved home. To make matters worse, these mold spores can cause serious respiratory problems, allergic responses and other health issues. You might even have millions of extra mold spores in your home right now -- thanks to that Christmas tree you set up back in December!
Fight back against mold before it can turn into a springtime crisis. Check common entry points such as leaky window casements, cracks in your basement walls or a water-damaged foundation. If you're planning on repainting your home's exterior, make sure the siding is bone dry and free of mold before you start. You might end up sealing in moisture, permitting the mold destruction to continue unobserved -- assuming that the mold doesn't eat through the new paint as well. Get your HVAC system checked as well; condensation in the ducts or standing water in the evaporator drain pain can foster mold growth.
Roof Leak Repairs
Did you have an icy or snowy roof this winter? If so, then you'd better find out whether all that solid water wreaked havoc on the roof's shingles and supporting structures -- and not just from the sheer weight of the ice. If your roof loses too much heat energy on a cold day, it can cause ice or snow to melt and slide down toward the gutter, where it re-freezes to create a massive ice dam. Water can then pool behind the ice dam and work its way past the shingles, rotting your roof and causing leaks.
Spring is the perfect season to schedule an annual roof inspection. Once you've found and fixed any signs of water damage, do what you can to prevent the same thing from happening next year. These tactics may include improving the insulation in your attic to keep rooftop ice from melting or installing heated gutter covers to keep melted ice from refreezing.
Spring should be a time for joy and renewal, not property damage and plumbing problems. Talk to your plumber, AC repair service, roofer and other service professionals about "season-proofing" your home!