Tips for Waterproofing Your Home

Even with the rainy season underway, there’s still time to protect your home from the elements.


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Photo by ayzek / iStock

Water is the enemy of the homeowner, they say, and as the rain pelts down outside, you may already have noticed some ill effects. But not to worry: It’s not too late to take steps to protect your home from the rain, experts say.

One of the best ways to guard a house against rain is to paint the exterior, and that will have to wait until the rainy season is over. But homeowners can make a big difference now by sealing roofs, replacing leaky windows, installing weatherstripping, and cleaning out rain gutters.

“Make sure the downspouts are diverting the water away from the house,” said Nancie Allen, a real estate agent with MasterKey Real Estate Advantage in Fremont. “Keeping your gutters clean is a big deal.”

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult or expensive to do so, and you can hire workers to take care of the chore between rain showers, Allen said. The agent recommended walking around the house and checking to see if the water coming out of the downspouts is flowing away from the house, not puddling at the bottom or running down the side.

Another tip: While it’s best to schedule regular roof inspections before the rain comes, you can still get roofers to check out the plumbing vents, ventilation pipes, skylights, and chimneys for any openings that might admit water.

“If possible, have the roofers who installed the roof inspect it,” the agent said. The roofers can seal up any gaps they might find to protect against leaks. This is another inexpensive fix.

Davey Cetina, a project manager at RT Design Studio, an Oakland firm that does home remodels, recommended installing weatherstripping.

“This one is an inexpensive five-minute fix,” Cetina said. If you notice water or drafts coming in under the door, go to a hardware store and grab the foam strips that go around the door. Installing the strips will also help reduce heating costs.

Also, check the windows, Cetina advised. Humidity around the sill indicates that the window wasn’t sealed correctly or wasn’t placed correctly, the project manager said.

“It’s best to replace the windows, not renovate them,” Cetina said. This can run into money, but you’ll save in the long run, he said. New windows can also help seal the house and bring down the utility bill.

While it’s still raining, obviously it’s not possible to paint the home’s exterior. But this is one area where preventive maintenance is important. Look around the house and check for peeling paint, faded or cracked paint, and small chips coming off exterior walls. If any of these conditions are apparent, use the extra time to get your ducks in a row: Get recommendations for three painters, do interviews, and choose a painter. See if you can get on the painter’s spring schedule.

While you’re scrutinizing the exterior, check sliding panels and door and window trim. It’s not at all unusual to find gaps and cracks in those outside elements. The gaps and cracks leave the house’s substructure vulnerable to the rain.

It shouldn’t be hard to find a handyperson willing to seal the gaps once the rains are over and the home’s exterior is completely dry. Taking care of these two preventive maintenance tasks will help keep you warm and dry during next year’s rainy season.

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