Although the saying is "April showers bring May flowers," in the Cleveland area, April showers bring many flooded basements. If you've gotten a first-time home buyer home inspection in the last year from Tri-County Inspections, these tips are for you. And if you've gotten one of our new construction home inspections, these tips area also for you. Basically, if you have a basement, these tips are for you.
Step 1 of NEO Home Ownership: Learn About Flooded Basements
Last spring we saw many headlines about flooded basements and in most areas it was all too common to see destroyed carpets, furniture and other basement belonging piled-up at the street. Article from last March: "Seven Hills reports 70 homes with flooded basements due to heavy rain." Another article from last April: "Flooded basements show that, when big rain storms hit, Beachwood needs a place for water to go." And in an article from Groundworks, a foundation repair company in Virginia, Cleveland ranks number 6 in the Top 15 U.S. Cities with the Worst Flooded Basements.
There are many reasons a basement can flood: burst pipes, broken water heater, foundation problems, plumbing / appliance leak, landscaping or exterior drainage issues but the most common in our area, and preventable, is: heavy storms.
Heavy Storms in Spring Cause Water Back-Up in Basements
It's the excessive rain for long periods of time, occasionally combined with melting snow, that overload our Cleveland/Akron area sewer systems and can cause a flooded basement. Storms can also cause structural damage that allows water to seep into your basement and other areas of your home. What can you do? Installing a sump pump, a sump pump with a back-up energy source if power goes out, is a great way to pump water that is starting to approach your home's foundation. Another thing to talk to your local plumber about is a sewer backflow preventer. A backflow preventer is a one-way valve that will allow wastewater to flow out of your home, but will not allow outside sewer water to flow into your home.
Step 2: Check Your Sump Pump & Sewer Backflow Preventer
If your home has a sump pump and we recently did your home inspection, refer to the home inspection report for comments about the sump pump. We know there's a lot to think about when buying your home and you might have put upgrading, replacing or repairing a sump pump down on the priority list - now is the time to prioritize it! The most common reasons homes with sump pumps still get flooded basements include: wrong size sump pump, improper installation, sump pump is too old and malfunctions, float switch compromised, poor maintenance and clogged discharge pipes. Your sump pump manufacturer usually recommends you run the pump every three months. And this is the season to make sure there is no debris built up around the discharge pipes. Remember - repairing or replacing a sump pump is usually a few hundred dollars. Cleaning up a flooded basement can cost tens of thousands: ripping out all wet building material like carpet and dry wall to avoid mold growth, replacing any ruined appliances, furniture and belongings.
Step 3: Get an Inspection Before Finishing a Basement
Whether you recently bought a new construction home or a previously built home, getting an inspection before you finish your basement could save you in substantial hassle down the road. Unless you've recently had a radon inspection, we would definitely recommend one, without question. You will be spending more time in your basement so make sure your levels are radon are safe. Also, a local plumber can usually inspect your sump-pump and sewer backflow preventer situation to make sure that you won't be hauling all your stuff to the curb for bulk garbage day after the first heavy rain storm.
Just because a home is newly built does not mean it has been built to perfection. Even home builders will tell you that on a fast-paced home building site their are many different people managing several different aspects of the build. Things can get over-looked inadvertently and getting a home inspection gives the builder a chance to make it right before you move in.
EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month because radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the US! Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year. Learn more about getting a Radon Inspection.
If you're a seller give your prospective buyers the confidence to waive the inspection contingency with a pre-listing home inspection.