By Ali Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
Today, most Southern California homeowners are breathing sighs of relief as the game-changing winter storm systems of the past few months begin to recede into memory. However, these rains were game-changers rather than game-enders. While the winter storms alleviated our state’s drought, the fact is that much of the state still endures drought conditions. Since San Bernardino County itself encompasses a greater land mass than six American states (and several industrialized nations), our county’s conditions now range from “abnormally dry” to “severe drought.”
To paraphrase baseball great Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over until it’s over,” and that means that California homeowners will have to be extra vigilant over the course of the next few months to find and correct any issues created by our recent rainstorms while still conserving water as before. So, if you are a homeowner or purchasing an existing home, now is the time for a thorough inspection to ensure your home’s and family’s health and safety.
Start with your roof. Whether your home’s roof has tile, asphalt or wooden (shake) materials, check for dark spots, holes, cracks, split seams or missing shingles. Water damage can lead to mold formation and wood rot. These can compromise the structural integrity of your home and introduce health risks that could cost a great deal to alleviate later. Clear off any broken tree limbs or other debris around which water can pool or insects can use as a gateway into your home. Then, check your ceilings throughout the home (especially in garages or utility rooms) for any water damage and correct it immediately.
Clean out the rain gutters of your home to remove any debris left over from the winter storms and check to make sure your gutters are still securely fastened. After you have cleared away all the debris from your exterior drains, inspect your windows for any cracking or splitting from the caulk. If so, clean off the mildew and replace the caulk. Once they are clear, inspect for any tears or dents on any vents, gutters or flashing (strips of metal or waterproof material used to prevent water from penetrating the junction of a roof with another surface).
Then, check your exterior materials and coatings for discolored spots, dents, chips or cracks. If you have a stucco exterior, check carefully for cracks and holes that might not be visible at a distance.
Remember to inspect for more than just water damage. The high winds that accompany storms can often create problems for windows, so check for any cracks or holes and make sure you board up any broken windows until they can be repaired. Even with storm shutters, windows can get cracked or damaged. If your home has been hit by hail, high winds, or a tornado, cracked or broken windows and damaged window casings are the most common signs of damage. Remember, a broken, shattered or missing window is dangerous, so make sure you board up any shattered windows until they can be repaired.
Damage from water saturation can often go unnoticed until it’s too late, so check around the home for any cracks, buckles or changes in your foundation, walkways, driveways, patios or other outdoor concrete-covered areas. If you have or suspect you have damage to your home that isn’t visible, consider a damage inspection from a certified contractor.
Then remember to trim back any trees or shrubs that might touch the home’s surfaces and check them again during the summer months. Plants will grow much more rapidly after events such as those we have experienced and you want to protect your home from pests.
Warming weather invites outdoor entertaining, so don’t forget to clean off your patio furniture using a mild soap and warm water. Gently scrub away any dirt that has collected over the winter. If you have wrought iron and rust has started forming, gently sand it off.
For more information on making sure your home continues to be as safe and healthy as possible, visit the United States Storm Damage Center at http://stormdamagecenter.org on the web and have a great spring.