No one really enjoys getting out in the rain, unless you are an aquatic creature who lives in the water 24/7! But, when you are in the process of buying a home, a rainy day is a great day to take a second look at a home you are considering putting an offer on or for having your Home Inspection performed. Notice I didn't say that rainy days are great for just getting out and looking at houses in general. I don't see that as being beneficial. But, when you have chosen a serious candidate to purchase, consider taking a look at it when water is falling from the sky so you'll know where the water lands, or settles, around the house.
As you may know, water intrusion is the #1 silent killer of a house. Since houses are primarily constructed of wood, the two just don't play well together. Lingering water intrusion can produce wood rot, mold, termites, and settlement/foundation problems among other things.
So, what are some areas to pay attention to in order to discover if there may be some water related issues that a professional would need to handle? Here is a quick list of some things to look at on a wet day, or even a dry day-
- The slope and grading of the lot. Is the lot graded so that all of the water flow is diverted away from the house and not toward the house? Pay attention to hilly terrain around the house and take notice of proper or improper grading meant to divert water flow. Also take note of the ground against the house and make sure it is sloping away from the house and not directly toward it.
- Gutters and downspouts around the base of the house. Many times gutter downspouts are found to be dumping water right at the base of a house. This can cause water issues such as wet basement walls in the area of the downspout or irregular settlement around the structure itself. This problem can be easily prevented/solved by adding gutter extensions to the downspouts to divert the water away from the house.
- Observe all gutters around the rooflines. Take a look at all of the gutters around the rooflines for clues of any potential problems. Are they clean and free of debris? If it's raining, are they overflowing? If they are overflowing in places, make note of these areas and be sure to check the areas for wood rot on a dry day.
- Does the house have dormers or skylights? While leaks may not be readily visible from the exterior on dormers and skylights, check the interior ceilings around them for signs of active or past leaks. If these are not flashed or sealed properly, they can be a water nightmare!
- Basement walls. Check all basement walls for signs of past moisture. Also, make a mental note of the smell of the air in the basement. Does it smell musty/damp? If so, there's water somewhere.
- Attic. If there is an attic on the house, climb up there and look at the undersides of the roof decking. You'll always see moisture stains on the roof decking if there has been a leak there in the past and the decking hasn't been replaced. Also check the areas where pipes may be vented through the roof to the outside. There should be a boot around the pipe on the exterior side to prevent leaking, but often these boots will crack when they get old and water will be able to penetrate them.
These are some areas that I suggest you should look at on a rainy day, or even on a dry day. The list is not, by any means, meant to cover every single possible area of a house where water may creep in. But, the areas listed above are some good general starting points to look at on your own for clues to potential water issues with a house. If you have concern over any particular area, consult a professional for expert advice on how to remedy the situation.