5 tips for preventing water damage to your home

Most New Englanders "enjoyed" more than 100 inches of snow this past winter. While we love the beauty of snow and the skiing possibilities it brings, it also brings up something we don’t love: the possibility of water damage to our homes.

Whether it's from winter snow or summer rain, water can contribute to settling, foundation cracks and leaks. And standing water, even in a dirt crawlspace, promotes growth of mold and bugs.

It’s easier (and cheaper!) to prevent these things than to fix them after they occur. After this New England winter we have found that many companies that do this work are booked up in advance. Now is the time to think about planning these improvements before next Winter.

Here are five things you can do to keep water away from your house and protect your investment by avoiding water damage.

1. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear

Clogged gutters can spill water over the sides and deposit a lot of it right next to your foundation. The first and easiest thing to do is remove any clogs and keep your gutters clear.

There are a number of affordable commercial wire mesh products that can help prevent future blockage. Many can be installed in DIY fashion if you’re comfortable on a ladder, or hire a pro.

2. Increase the number of downspouts

Some houses, especially older ones or homes with additions, don’t have enough downspouts to correctly disperse all the water that a large or multi-section roof can collect.

That can mean overflowing gutters as well as too much water pooling in one spot wherever the downspout ends.

Here’s some simple guidance from the This Old House website: a downspout for every 40 feet of roofline.

Learn more at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,20486487-4,00.html

3. Use downspout extensions

Your local home-improvement or hardware store should have a selection of affordable downspout extenders. Use them to funnel rainwater further away from the house, and ideally downhill.

If your downspouts simply drop the water straight into the ground next to the foundation, this is a very easy and very important step to take.

4. Install a French drain

A French drain is essentially a gravel- and pipe-filled trench that channels water away from your home.

French drains (which go by a number of other names, including drain tile and rock drain) work wonders for dealing with rain or other water that’s already on the ground around your house.

HGTV has a great explanation of how an effective French drain is built. It’s not nearly as easy as adding downspouts, but it’s a great way to protect your foundation.

Learn more at :http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/outdoors/how-to-install-french-drains

5. Install a modern sump pump

If you are already dealing with recurring water pooling in a basement or crawl space, a sump pump may be necessary.

The great news is that modern sump pumps are reliable and energy-efficient, and you can check reviews online—not only for the products but also for potential installers. Since sump pump operation involves both water and electricity, an experienced professional installer is the best bet for most people.

Just like with downspouts, make sure your pump is set up to discharge the water far enough away from your home.