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Written By Roger MarxPublished 03/01/22
Water is the foundation of life, but when unmoderated, it can be one of nature’s most destructive forces. This is particularly true for your home, with estimates showing that homeowners will spend an average of $2,500 repairing water damage each year. To avoid this inconvenient and unnecessary cost, consider the following 7 pieces of advice for protecting your home from water damage.
A degraded roof is the perfect entry point for moisture--especially in areas of heavy precipitation. Therefore, a roof replacement is one of the best renovation projects a homeowner can take to protect their home from water damage.
When choosing a new roof, understand that not all materials are created equal. Common products such as asphalt shingles and wood shakes do a good job in repelling moisture when new but readily break down in the face of impact and UV exposure. Even in a best-case scenario, professionals estimate that you will get no more than 30 years out of these roof types, with some asphalt roofs beginning to blister in as little as 15 years.
Superior products for creating a long-lasting, watertight barrier include metal, slate, or clay. While these products can sometimes last as much as 100 years, understand that they are generally very expensive and can be difficult to work with should any repairs be necessary.
As such, a superior alternative that balances the best of both worlds is composite roofing tiles. Fabricated from a mixture of asphalt, recycled paper, and fiberglass, synthetic roofing shingles are rated to last at least 50 years, providing the highest industry rating against impact and securing an outstanding initial layer of defense against water invasion for years to come.
Most homeowners immediately think about the home’s interior when it comes to water damage. However, providing a water-resistant exterior is equally important when it comes to creating a safe, attractive, and functional property.
To this effect, one of the principal areas of the home that can be undermined by water is the driveway. Traditional concrete driveways are inherently a very poor option when confronted with water flow. Not only does the smooth concrete surface allow water to easily flow and wash away other areas of the property, but the substrate can easily erode and cause the concrete to crack and buckle.
At the very least, concrete driveways should be constructed with a slot drain to help move water away from the home and toward a more desirable location. However, the best option for a waterproof driveway is stabilized gravel. While traditional gravel driveways are easily rutted and washed away in the face of precipitation, modern permeable pavers create interlocking grids that hold the gravel in place. Using this system, homeowners are able to leverage the natural drainage properties of gravel without having to deal with the difficulty of repairing a damaged concrete driveway.
The foundation and any other below-grade areas of the home are particularly susceptible to water damage, as water seeping from the soil can easily cause mold, mildew, or rot if not adequately attended to.
As a result, many homeowners take measures to damp proof below-grade areas. Damp proofing is the process of applying moisture repellent coatings to the foundation or basement walls to keep moisture from the soil from infiltrating. While this damp proofing process does a good job in arid regions that do not see heavy precipitation, it may not be enough if you live in an area that experiences flowing groundwater with regularity, making waterproofing the foundation a top priority in areas of high moisture.
Waterproofing the foundation involves applying a waterproof membrane to the foundation’s walls. This membrane captures flowing water, directs it down to a drainage mat or board, and directs it away from the home via an underground pipe system. This ensures that all below-grade structures of the home are unassailed by flowing groundwater.
Vapor barriers are a common means of moisture protection in attics and crawl spaces. Common vapor barriers in these areas include aluminum foil and polyethylene plastic sheets.
While these materials can trap moisture, they are of little utility if not held in place correctly. This makes an elite vapor barrier tape a top priority for ensuring the efficacy of vapor barriers.
There are hundreds of tapes on the market, most of which are fabricated from asphalt, rubber, or acrylic. Although each of these materials has its pros and cons, acrylic barrier tape is far and away the best option. Acrylic barrier tape is a bit more expensive than asphalt or rubber, but it is much better at resisting moisture, resulting in an extended lifespan that increases energy efficiency in the home. Some other benefits of acrylic barrier tape include:
No off-gas pollution
Improved adhesion over time
Can withstand extreme temperatures (-30 to 300 degrees) without losing adhesion
Can be used inside or outside
Won’t break down when exposed to UV rays or chemicals
The seals between the wall and window frames can become worn over time, allowing water to follow the path of least resistance and make its way into the home. While you may be able to remedy the issue by using a silicone caulk or some other form of sealant, significantly degraded windows need to be replaced in order to keep your home watertight.
Vinyl is the most popular material used in contemporary window frames. Unlike wood frames, vinyl does not have to be regularly treated to maintain its moisture-resistant properties. It can also be manufactured into a number of attractive colors and designs to keep your home’s curb appeal strong for years to come.
Many homes are replacing traditional grass lawns with xeriscaped or other low-water options. Not only are these lawns more environmentally friendly in that they require less water to maintain their appearance, but they can actually do a better job of standing up in the face of heavy precipitation, as well. They will not become swampy in the face of standing water nor require extra care when the vegetation grows too rapidly.
However, if you are one of the many people who still prefers the classic look of a traditional grass lawn, it is critical that you keep it in good condition to combat excess water flow. Ensure that it is gradually sloped away from the home so that running water does not flow toward the foundation. Regularly aerate the soil so that water is more easily absorbed.
Even if you decide to go with a gravel driveway, it is likely that you will still have some concrete surfaces around your home, such as the garage floor, sidewalk, pool deck, or patio. As mentioned, a slot drain is critical for ensuring the integrity of these concrete surfaces. However, for high-traffic areas, additional treatment will be necessary. While a basic masonry seal can keep concrete surfaces from absorbing water, a latex concrete paint is usually the best option for repelling water and keeping your concrete looking fresh.
Water damage results in some of the most frustrating costs for homeowners each year, with small problems becoming monstrosities overnight. To steer clear of this unsavory situation, consider a new roof, driveway drainage, waterproofing the foundation, sealing vapor barriers, new windows, landscaping, and treating concrete surfaces as 7 of the best pieces of advice for protecting your home from water damage.
About the author:
Roger Marx is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and home renovation. Roger is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value and improve sustainability.