Whether water is infiltrating into your home through cracks in your foundation, your basement’s floor, the roof, your house’s siding, or even through the windows, it’s crucial to act quickly. Water is the second-most home damaging element – right after fire.
If the issue is taken care of right away, any damages caused by prolonged exposure to humidity – such as mold – won’t have time to develop, allowing your repair costs to be lower than if they had. However, if the issue is ignored at the outset, whether it be by neglect or simply because it’s invisible to the naked eye, damages can disseminate quickly. It only takes mold a few weeks to develop and propagate. By avoiding a problem of this extent right at the beginning for some short-term cost savings, you’ll most likely end up with a costly invoice a few months later. The longer you wait, the more time the issue has to worsen, and the more you’ll end up spending.
Water infiltration consequences
- Mold, fungus and bacteria;
- Negative effects on the residents’ health;
- Weakening of the building’s structure;
- Weakening of the building envelope’s insulating capacity;
- Depreciating resale value of your home;
- Legal proceedings for having a latent defect not being declared to the home’s buyer.
A home without any humidity or water infiltration will certainly be healthier, safer, and will provide better comfort to all residents. It will also allow your home to be more energy efficient and will protect its resale value from dropping.
BEWARE: Don’t rely on your insurance
Insurance companies know what the implications are when your home has water damage. Some don’t cover these damages unless they’re caused by plumbing issues. Be sure to double-check what your insurance policy covers. Any damages caused by water infiltration through the roof or the basement aren’t usually covered. They only are if you have an extensive policy. The same goes for water damages caused by heavy rainfall or sewer backup. For instance, if, when the snow melts in the spring, water gets in through your roof & ceiling and ruins your walls, furniture, electronics, floors, etc. you’ll only be covered if you’ve accepted a special clause that indicates you are.
How to identify water infiltration
If you’ve got a doubt about water infiltrating your home. You should keep an eye out for these signals:
- An excessively humid basement
- Abnormal amounts of condensation in your windows
- Dark mold spots at the bottom of your walls or on the ceiling
- Water accumulation on your floor
- Musty odours
- Paint that begins peeling or that is humid underneath windows
- Water spots on the ceiling
- Visible cracks in the foundation
- Weak brick joints
- Bulging brick wall (also called bowing brick)
- Damaged roofing
- Weaker foundation
- Floor buckling.
How to find the infiltration’s source
Finding the source of your water infiltration can be tricky. As unlikely as it may seem, water damage found in the basement can actually come from the roof: the water can travel from the roof, through the walls, and make its way all the way to the basement. When this happens, a building expert’s skills will be required to properly find where the water has travelled.
They’ll do so with the help of thermography. This is essentially the use of a special handheld machine that recognizes different temperatures (based off of heat levels) on various surfaces and materials. With it, the expert will be able to see where there might be air coming in, and – chances are – that’s where the water also came from. Of course, thermal imaging guns can be operated by anyone that owns one. Though, getting advice from an expert on the subject would be ideal since they know what’s considered a ‘normal’ reading and what isn’t.
Your well-being can be an indicator
According to Health Canada, mold that is invisible to the naked eye can cause a variety of symptoms, such as; cause irritation to your eyes, nose, and throat. Moisture caused bacteria can also cause a leaking nose, sinus congestion, wheezing, coughing, more frequent (and more severe) asthma attacks, as well as chronic fatigue and headaches.
If you noticed these kinds of symptoms, and feel like they might be surfacing out of the blue and more frequently, you should definitely check your home for any humidity, infiltration, and unwanted bacteria.
Common causes of water infiltration
Water can make its way through your home in so many different ways. Here are some of them:
- Cracks in the foundation or concrete slab;
- A defective or blocked french drain (caused by roots, sand, earth, or iron ocher);
- A capillary effect (when the foundation walls begin absorbing water because of the great amount of water sticking to them);
- A defective sump dump;
- Sewer back up ;
- Poorly installed windows;
- Ineffective exterior siding;
- Dried up caulking and brick mortar joints;
- Damaged roofing;
- Detached flashing.
With the freeze-thaw cycles, our foundations go through within a year, they become subject to a lot of stress. If your foundation is cracked, these cycles only worsen the situation and the foundation will no longer be resistant to the water in the ground – which will then cause water to penetrate into your basement walls. If your land is inclined on a negative – when facing your home – these types of issues will only worsen as gravity will push the water towards your foundation walls.
Protecting your home from water infiltration: How-to
If your house’s French drain is over 25 years old, there’s a high chance that it no longer works as efficiently as it used to. You should at least get it inspected (done with a camera system) or get it changed it if you truly believe that it is no longer effective.
When you get a new french drain installed, the specialized contractor will also add a new waterproofing membrane on your foundation. This membrane has an important function: it’s the last barrier protecting your home from water accumulation. Its coat-like properties ensure your foundation stays dry, no matter how much water accumulates.
Caulking your Windows and Doors
Water infiltration that causes severe damages isn’t necessarily caused by a one-shot deal of large amounts of water. Small amounts of water getting through at a constant pace over a longer period of time can have the same effects as large amounts at once. This kind of water infiltration can actually be worse as it’s not noticeable right away. The issue then lasts for months, maybe even years, until someone realizes damages have been made and it’s already too late.
Make sure your exterior siding is watertight
Take a look at your mortar joints and get them repaired/restored if they’re damaged. This will avoid your brick wall from bulging due to water having seeped through behind the wall. As for other exterior siding materials, just ensure that pieces fit perfectly together so that water has no way in.
What do I do if water has infiltrated my home and there’s now bacterial and mold contamination?
Proceed to a moisture decontamination process
To avoid any further contaminant propagation, it’s crucial to undergo a decontamination process – and that it be done by certified professionals. Don’t simply start removing parts of a wall that has physical proof of contamination. Whatever the contaminants might be, they are most likely airborne now. Everything must be removed and decontaminated by professional equipment.
Install a built-in dehumidifier
As you probably know, moisture and contaminants thrive in humidity. That’s why we tend to find them in darker humid corners, as opposed to dry and bright ones. Installing a built-in dehumidifier will allow you to be a little more at ease – you’ll no longer need to break your head trying to figure out the optimal times to turn on the machine. A built-in system knows when it’s time to get working on your home’s humidity levels and ensures there’s no environment in which contaminants can survive.
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Ensure proper ventilation where necessary
Proper ventilation can prevent multiple issues. Of course, if mold and contaminants are already present, ventilation will not make them go away. It will, however, potentially prevent their propagation and development in the future.
Inspect your roof
Be sure your roofing shingles are in top shape, are properly placed on your roof, and don’t curl upwards. If any of these happen, their lifespan is effectively over. Get them replaced as soon as possible to avoid any water infiltration.
Find the right contractors to protect your home
At RenoAssistance, we pride ourselves in finding you the right contractors in your area that can help prevent water infiltration and renovate if ever your home has severe water damage. Contact us today by filling out our simple form.