Episode 16 – Avoiding Wet Basements

Episode 16 – Rapid Repair Pro – Handyman O’Fallon – Avoiding Wet Basements

Welcome to the rapid repair podcast hosted by Donna Green, featuring her favorite Handyman O’Fallon and all around repair expert, the amazing Phil green. Phil has over 35 years of experience in the home repair industry and Donna is a talented home decorating expert and loves to help you live both a happy and healthy lifestyle. You may hear grunting or barking coming from the two Bulldogs in the studio. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the home of the highest rated Handyman O’Fallon provider in the st Louis area. It is the Rapid Repair Pro podcast.

Donna:
I know around here we’re ready for some serious spring weather. It’s been a little chilly still, so it’s hard to believe that it is the middle of April. So we’re all eager for spring and spring typically brings heavy rains and as a result of those heavy rains, oftentimes we will have wet basements or crawl spaces every year. And so we’re going to talk about that today. What ways that you can prevent a wet basement and what to do if you have a wet basement. So anyway, looking forward to this conversation and other Handyman O’Fallon tips.. and helping homeowners deal with this pesky problem. So we’ve had a little bit of experience and walking alongside people when they have a wet basement, we have a great friend and other business Advantaclean and they deal with this. And so we love working beside them and helping their clients when we can. So Phil, let’s talk about why it is important to keep your basement and crawlspace from getting wet.

Phil:
Well, anytime you allow water to enter your building, it’s not a good thing. Moisture and water is the number one enemy of a building structure, both in the durability of the building and the health, and indoor air quality in the building. So it’s a big deal to keep your house dry.

Donna:
So what are the effects of moisture? So we know that it’s important to control it. We’ve talked about that on numerous shows, but what are some of the key, I guess, consequences of your home or business having too much moisture in the basement or crawlspace? So, maybe it’s not even a flood situation, but it’s a chronic slow leak, you know, maybe not a full flood, but you’ve got a corner that’s a slow leak and then that increases the moisture. What are some of the effects of that on your basement? Crawlspace?

Phil:
Well, it’s okay if wood gets wet. The problem lies when it’s not allowed to dry. So once it gets wet, if it’s not allowed to dry within 48 hours, then you have the risk of mold occurring, which is a problem. And then you also have wood that has kept wet over an extended period of time because the breakdown and you get rot. In the old days they built houses to dry out. We, as Handyman O’Fallon techs had uninsulated cavities that when wind driven rain would find its way through the siding, wall cavities could dry out. And so that was not a problem. But on the other side of that, we had poor energy efficiency, which back then was not a problem because you know, energy to heat was not as expensive.

Phil:
So, leaks that can get in can be a problem if it’s unchecked and unnoticed. And you find that a lot in crawl spaces because people don’t get down there and look so they don’t realize there is a problem until it’s a real problem. So we find a lot of extensive wood rot in crawlspaces from water intrusion that’s not taken care of and extensive mold issues for the same reason. But you know, water is also a problem when it’s just excessive moisture. So it’s important to make sure that you have adequate ventilation. Nowadays with houses being built so tight, it’s easy to get too much humidity in the air and that can be a problem. That can also cause a lot of the same issues in poor indoor air quality. It can cause some building components to rot. It invites pests and even viruses, which thrive in high indoor humidity.

Donna:
People may not realize that, especially people who have crawl spaces when they don’t evaluate them on a regular basis, if they’ve got a chronic moisture problem down there. I don’t think a lot of people realize that the crawl space, air quality truly does affect the home, right?

Phil:
What is in your crawlspace ends up in your house.

Donna:
And you did touch on, but I want to make sure people understand and hear this, that moisture in basements in crawlspaces are perfect habitat for pests that none of us really want to encounter.

Phil:
Those pests will make their home in that damp wood and they help deteriorate faster. So it’s super important that if you have a moisture problem, a flooding problem, even if it’s a one time flood, it’s very, very important to dry the structure properly.

Donna:
Yes. Okay. Alright. So what are some things that homeowners can do to avoid a wet basement or crawl space?

Phil:
Well, for starters, go down in your basement once in a while. I don’t expect most homeowners to go into the crawlspace. But you’d at least want someone to come out once a year and check that out. But go do it. If you have a basement, go down there once in a while and just look and make sure you don’t have any leaks. Make sure don’t have any water coming in through your basement foundation, you know, cracks that are suddenly appearing. So as a homeowner, you should be aware of what’s going on with your house and checking things out occasionally so that you can catch anything before it’s a real problem.

Donna:
Okay. Any other things that we can do to avoid our basement and crawlspace from flooding.

Phil:
Well just general good maintenance practices or calls to a Handyman O’Fallon are important. You know, you want to make sure your gutters are working properly, and the gutters are draining at least six feet away from the foundation. We recommend that you put in a buried gutter drain. That could be like a 10 foot piece of corrugated pipe that drains the gutters away from the house. So that’s really important to keep your basement dry. Also, you want to make sure that if you have any areas around your basement where the dirt has settled and water pooling up against the house, you’d want to add some dirt to that.

Donna:
Okay. So what about sump pumps? What’s important about that?

Phil:
Make sure you have a good quality sump pump and if you haven’t changed your pump in a several years, I would highly recommend doing so. You know the time to find out that your sump pump doesn’t work is not when you were having a four and five inch rain event and the pump goes out and floods your basement. So at least every couple of years I would recommend them replacing it. Get a good heavy duty cast iron pump and not one of the plastic ones that they sell at big box stores that do not hold up. Also check for debris in the sump pit.

Donna:
You know a story really comes to mind. Recently on a Saturday morning we had gotten some heavy rain the day before and a friend of ours called in hysterics. They just bought this house. There were no known issues there with basement flooding. And early that Saturday morning she opened her basement steps to go downstairs and everything was floating in the basement. And I just remember her hysteria and all the worry that went through her mind over the pictures of her kids now floating down there. And that’s what we want to help people avoid.

Phil:
So things like that are important. And particularly in the st Louis area, there are some areas that it doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry, your sump pump runs constantly, right. And because we have a high water table in a lot of different areas. So in that case I wouldn’t rely on just a sump pump. You need a good quality battery backup system. And honestly if you have a really expensive finished basement and you have a high water table, I would highly recommend getting an automatic generator installed because a battery backup is probably not going to do it. But one of these big storms we get power could be out for hours. The battery backups are not going to last. So you know, if you’ve got a $50,000 finished basement, it may be worth purchasing a generator.

Phil:
You can spend $10,000 or $12,000 on a good backup generator to protect that investment, and of course see a Handyman O’Fallon expert regularly, it’s fine. Not only that, it would be handy to have for sure. You know, for the times around here when we could lose power for a week because of an ice storm or whatever.

Donna:
Okay. So are there other things that we can do to check the exterior of our home to make sure that we’re doing everything we can and taking that with us to homes as Handyman O’Fallon techs.

Phil:
You know, like I talked about earlier, you want to look for low spots where water’s pooling up near the house. But also things like your window well covers, you want to make sure that where you have a basement window and it’s got the metal well around it that you know, you gotta cover over that so water’s not filling up in there. I see a lot of cases where water is running through the window into the basement. Those window wells ideally should have a drain in them that goes down to the footing drain that goes around a basement. I would recommend digging those out, you know, 18 to 24 inches deep and, and filling it up with rock so that at least you, if you do have some water that gets in there from the cover that you know it has a place to go into the rock and then drain into the ground before it can get into the window.

Phil:
But sometimes the flooding comes from the sewers backing up. As someone working in the Handyman O’Fallon field, I see this. Or the drain on the AC coil gets stopped up. That is surprisingly a lot more water than what you would think. An air conditioner could put off 15 to 20 gallons of water a day.

Donna:
Yeah. So just another little little tip there. So something really important for homeowners to keep in mind too, when, you know, doing all of these steps to prevent the fact that you have water, but even every effort that you make could, could not necessarily prevent it. So if you have the sewer backup or your sump pump does malfunction, you want to make sure you’ve got your home covered. So I really recommend that everybody check with their insurance company, find out what their coverage is on that and make sure that they’re protected. You know, we run into homeowners all the time who have a flooding situation, but they didn’t have the proper coverage and then they’re out of pocket for a lot of that. And sometimes, especially if you have a finished basement that’s not a cheap Handyman O’Fallon repair, it’s not a charity.

Phil:
Well I just encountered that recently with a Handyman O’Fallon customer of mine who just purchased a home and for whatever reason she did not get sump pump coverage on the new house. And before she even moved in, her pump failed and flooded her finished basement and she’s out of pocket.

Donna:
Yeah, yeah. That’s so sad.

Phil:
So unfortunate. She had plans to do a lot of different things in this house when she moved in and now she is going to be spending that money on Handyman O’Fallon expenses repairing her basement. It’s part of what we see as Handyman O’Fallon experts at Rapid Repair Pro!

Donna:
We hope to help you all prevent a scenario like that. Okay. So you know, we talked a little bit about the benefits of ensuring that you’ve got things taken care of. You know, you’re going to avoid mold, you’re going to create a healthier environment. Your storage of your items are protected if you’re controlling that moisture and hopefully a flooding situation. You don’t see your belongings floating in your basement. But let’s say it happens and you discover that you’ve got water in your crawlspace or you open your basement door and see that it’s flooded. Let’s talk about some of the important things to keep in mind when that happens. Because oftentimes what people tend to do is, Oh, I’m just going to shop vac this out and run some fans. Let’s talk about the importance of drying the right way.

Phil:
Well, like I said at the beginning when things like that get wet, you have a 48 hour time period. You need to get things dried. So if you try to dry it yourself, it takes more than just a shop vac and a fan to dry out a flooded basement. You’ve got to get rid of the moisture. And the only way to do that properly is with the proper number of fans and dehumidification. That’s the only way you’re going to do it in that time period. We see a lot of cases where people are, and I get it. I mean especially if they don’t have coverage, they’re trying to save money and trying to do it themselves and you know, you can do the shop vac and you can rent some fans at home Depot and you can do that and things seem like they’re dry, but what doesn’t get dry is what you don’t see.

Phil:
So what you end up with then is you end up with a lot of mold in your walls and behind your dry wall and things like that. And that creates a problem for indoor air quality and for your health. So it’s really important to dry things out properly or call a Handyman O’Fallon expert if you’re unsure.

Donna:
We have seen too many Handyman O’Fallon situations where somebody has taken it upon themselves to try to fix it and in the long run it’s cost them more money and a whole lot of stress and you know, we really want to help with that. And Rapid Repair Pro walking alongside a company like advantaclean can also help you get back in your home depending on the level of damage we can help with some of that and ease that burden. So anyway. Anything else that you would like to add to this topic? It’s not a super fun topic. I’ve been sitting here all day going, what could I say that’s fun? There isn’t anything fun about a flood.

Phil:
No, it’s not. And it’s really sad. You know, I’ve seen it a lot and it’s a very stressful event to have to go through and I really feel for people when they’re experiencing it. So the best way to avoid it is just good maintenance and just being aware of what’s going on and you know, that’s the best thing you can do. That’s what I highly recommend you do.

Donna:
Right. Okay. Well, as we said, this topic isn’t very much fun, but I don’t know if you can hear in the background. One of the Bulldogs is awake and she is ready for a little bit of fun and probably would prefer that somebody throw a ball, but she could be convinced to sit on our lap and go to sleep, but the chair is not big enough. Right. So anyway, I have nothing else on this topic today. Anything you’d like to add, Phil? No, just everybody stay safe out there. Absolutely. You know, springtime is upon us and whether it’s going to get nice soon. So surely it is. You keep saying that. Yeah. Okay. All right sir. Bye.

Have a great day. Take care. Bye.

You can find us online @ www.rapidrepairpro.com or you can call us at 800-741-6056 and I promise we will get to you right away. Awesome. So hope to hear from you if you have any questions on Handyman O’Fallon projects or repairs, any thoughts, if you want more information about anything that we talked about, so until the next time, hope you all have a great, Handyman O’Fallon, day. Thank you everyone in our Handyman O’Fallon listening audience.