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Rocky Top? We Might Say ‘Rainy’ Top! The Best Ways to Prevent Water Damage for the Tennessee Rainy Season

Image of a rainstorm in Tennessee

The rainy season in Tennessee begins with the wettest months in November and December and lasts through July. With much of the year during this rainy period, homes not adequately prepared face a higher risk of water damage. Knowing how to spot potential water intrusion and what to do can save homeowners a lot of time and money in preventing more costly repairs.  This article will cover essential information for spotting, preventing, and dealing with water damage in your home.

 

How water damage can impact a home: 


Water damage can be one of the worst and most costly issues in any home.  Being that water comes from all areas- from top to bottom, from outside and inside, one must be extra vigilant and prepared to stop it in its tracks and correct the problem before it becomes a much larger issue. Water damage can bring destruction, mold and rot to your home. If the damage is left untreated, it may cause health issues for humans and animals.


Wood rot or other damage from water intrusion can compromise the structural integrity of a home. This breaks down the actual material the home is made of and can lead to costly repairs and replacements. 


It can also lead to developing mold or mildew growth. These fungal growth areas thrive in damp, dark, and undisturbed places. These can be cracks in basement sides, flooring, or areas of the home where water is used more than other areas (ie the bathroom, or kitchen). Along with potential health risks for those sensitive to respiratory illness, it can also cause unpleasant odors and can leave a stain on whatever it touches. 

 

How to spot water damage: What does it look like? 


The amount of time it can take water damage to become noticeable varies greatly depending on many factors, including the severity of the water intrusion, how long it has been left untreated, and what it’s affecting. Here are some general signs to keep in mind when looking for water damage.

 

  • Soft spots or peeling, bubbling paint. This is a visible sign that water is present and causing damage. Soft spots usually indicate soaked or wet drywall. It can go deeper, especially if the water intrusion is coming from behind the drywall. The framing behind the drywall may be damaged as well.

Water damage to interior paint
Image provided by Charles Aydlet Photography

  • A strange or musty smell. Standing water can leave a lasting smell once it takes root in an area. The smell is often described as musty, earthy, mildewy, or even a moldy smell. The basement is not the only location where the smell would become noticeable. It can be anywhere in the home, but especially where the areas are wet.

 

  • Discoloration. When drywall, wood or any absorbent material has been damaged with water, it can lead to a discoloration of the material or paint. Often accompanied by a brownish hue, these spots become the most noticeable to residents. 


Water stain on a white ceiling
Image provided by Avery Roofing Services

  • Standing water. The most obvious sign there is water damage can be standing water where there shouldn’t be. Pooling onto the flooring or collecting, causing walls to sag is another largely visible sign water damage is present. 

How to address water damage once you’ve found it: 

 

If this is a majorly flooded basement or other area of the home - Depending on how much water has entered your home or how deep the standing water is, interfering without proper precautions can lead to dangerous encounters. First, make sure yourself and others are not at risk for exposure to live electrical currents. If there is a possibility the home's wiring is compromised, having your utility company turn off the power is a safe first step. It is advised to seek professional advice for removing mass amounts of water from any area in the home.  

 

If there is mild water damage or intrusion, clean and dry standing water. You can attempt to contain leaks with buckets or tubs to prevent other areas from water damage like floors or furniture. Allow for proper ventilation and air flow, this reduces the risk of mold or mildew growth and can help to dry the area until it can be treated. 

 

If it is older water damage, check if the spot is wet- if not, the issue may already be resolved and left behind a stain. You may need to check with your agent or a home inspection company for a professional opinion. It is best to seek professional advice to ensure the water is no longer flowing to the area and causing further damage. Once you’ve confirmed water damage is no longer a threat, repairs may range from replacing drywallto fixing leaking pipes or even just a new coat of paint. 


How to prevent water damage: 

 

  • Plant trees away from your home


 It may be surprising to learn that trees can actually affect more than the curb appeal of your home. Tree roots can lead to erosion of the soil. If they are planted too close to your foundation, it can weather away over time. According to TreeNewal.com it's recommended that "If you expect your tree to be 25-50 feet at maturity, plant it 15-20 feet away from any buildings. If your tree is supposed to grow to more than 50 feet tall at maturity, plant it at least 30-50 feet away from any buildings." If trees are not distanced away from a house the root system can potentially erode the terrain and will allow water to seep into crawl spaces, or basements.

 

Trees, when planted a healthy distance away from the foundation, protect your home rather than harming it. Their roots absorb rainwater and moisture from the soil, pulling it away from your home's foundation. It also promotes a healthy moisture level in the soil avoiding oversaturation or crumbling soil in the dryer months. Oversaturated or crumbling soil can lead to an uneven foundation risking structure issues to your home long term.  

 

Trees also should be planted a safe distance to avoid interference with the plumbing structure of a home. When roots spread there is a risk of them growing over, under, and around the pipes needed to regulate a home's plumbing. 


  • Clean Gutters & Reroute Downspouts


Part of routine roof maintenance, the most beneficial time to clean your gutters is during the spring and fall seasons. Falling leaves or blooming blossoms are beautiful- until they clog your gutters. This can lead to backed up downspouts which overflow onto the roof. The pooling water can sit and seep into the building's material, causing excess water to soak into the roof's material and break down over time. Gutters should be clean from debris and blockages, like leaves or sticks, to allow proper water flow through the downspouts.


It is encouraged to reroute downspouts away from the homes foundation. Much like tree roots can affect the erosion process for your foundation, so can improperly routed downspouts. Neglecting to route pouring water away from your foundation can lead to pooling water around the base of your home. Over time, this water can erode the soil, potentially unleveling the foundation of the home. This can cause cracks in the foundation if left untreated, potentially spreading upwards. 


  • Sealing Cracks


This simple routine maintenance act can prevent some potentially bigger problems from developing. Sealing cracks helps by ensuring water or moisture doesn’t seep in between hard to reach areas of a home. Water seepage can also damage interior finishes in the home. Items such as paint, trim, and flooring can be preserved by creating a water tight barrier. While this is a more cosmetic issue, if left untreated this can lead to structural issues in the future.

 

  • Proper Ventilation


Making sure your home is properly ventilated can reduce the appearance of condensation in colder months. As warm air is trapped inside, it can transform water seeping into the wood or structure of the home, leading to water damage and potential wood rot. This can also damage your HVAC system, resulting in wear on the unit. This could decrease the HVAC’s lifespan and could lead to water inside the unit, causing it to rust or short circuit from within, even shutting it down entirely. You can maintain proper ventilation in the attic to prevent moisture buildup. This buildup can lead to mold growth and structural damage from inside out. Installing roof vents, soffit vents, or ridge vents can promote healthy air circulation and prevent condensation.


There are a number of ways water can bring damage or destruction to your home, but there are a number of ways to prepare and prevent it from happening! Discovering water damage in your home can be a frustrating circumstance, and the advice of a professional can come in handy. From the top of your home to bottom, and everywhere in-between it's encouraged for homeowners to stay alert for potential water issues that can have costly repairs in the future! We hope this article contains some helpful insights on spotting potential water damage, and some helpful strategies for dealing with the aftermath.



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