by Sherrie Culbertson, Realtor

Water … it’s our friend … have a cold? Drink more water. Need to lose weight? Drink more water. Can’t wake up? Drink more water.  But water can also be our enemy and as destructive as fire. I’m not talking about catastrophic events like hurricanes and tsunamis, not even talking about floods that happen due to natural disasters or levy failures.

Realtors see dozens of homes every year where water intrusion has caused costly and potentially hazardous damage. More often than not, one or more of these three things is causing the problem. Often, the first, gutters, are causing the next two. Gutters full of leaves and debris, or if improperly installed can a cause a steady drip drip drip onto the earth below, eroding the soil until there is a negative slope toward the home’s foundation. Downspouts can clog from the debris and contribute to the back up of water near the house. During heavy rains, some water may even seep into the porous blocks or cement of the basement, crawl or slab.

In Ohio, even water that doesn’t seep in, can rest below the surface and freeze during our bitter winters.  Frozen water expands … pushing in on basement and crawl space walls, as well as slab foundations. Once this happens, waterproofing may not be enough. Block or cement walls can crack under the pressure (hydrostatic pressure for my engineering pals) allowing moisture in, leading to potentially hazardous biogrowth/mold and that musty smell (mold is a topic for another day!).  Cracks that cause extreme bowing (typically, more than 1 ¼“) or the presence of offset blocks (jutting out unevenly) may require professionally installed support braces. If nothing is done, the foundation may slowly sink and shift, causing doors that won’t shut properly and windows that are stuck. Garage and basement floors crack and the beat goes on. Pretty soon, you’ve got a mess on your hands, and probably a big hit on your bank account. I’m talking about the potential for thousands of dollars in repairs or significant reduction in the value of your home. Here are three essential rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Keep your gutters in good repair, clean, and free flowing
  • Downspouts should direct the water away from the home via slope, or an above or below ground drainage tube
  • The grading around your home should slope away and downward at a rate of one inch per foot for at least 6 feet (meaning the ground 6 feet away from the house should be at least 6″ lower than that near the house)

One last thing – all homes settle some, so a couple of cracks on basement walls or concrete floors do not mean there are structural issues. When in doubt, call a professional!

For  more information about the Central Ohio Real Estate market, buying or selling, call Sherrie Culbertson, Realtor with USA-1 Real Estate at (614) 216-4876 SCulbert@columbus.rr.com