It was difficult for us in Southern California to understand the devastation left behind on the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, especially as the Inland Empire’s residents were enjoying record temperatures in October and November. We actually went out to New Jersey to help, and it was no joke—the Eastern Seaboard got hit hard.
But just think back to two Decembers ago, when downtown Laguna Beach was under four feet of water right before the Christmas holiday. Although not as bad as a hurricane by any means, that storm devastated south Orange County, and had people being rescued from their roofs, homes were destroyed and old-growth trees uprooted. Then there were the windstorms last year at this time that were sweeping the Southland, causing millions in damages to homes, businesses and cities.
What’s our point? Just because it’s all sunny and happy here now doesn’t mean we don’t see severe weather too. And even though a hurricane isn’t on its way, we wanted to share a few tips on safeguarding your home from flooding. As you know, the weather service is predicting an El Niño this year, so let’s think about it now, not after the rain starts!
1. Clean your gutters! Yes, California homes have rain gutters, believe it or not. And if you don’t believe us, go out and have a look. You’ve probably thought of them as “leaf collectors” not rain gutters—in which case, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Poor roof drainage is one of the biggest causes of slab leaks, as a clogged gutter causes problems by concentrating roof runoff water at the home’s corners close to the foundation.
So get out a ladder (and be careful) and make sure that your gutters are tightly secured to your house before starting to clean out those leaves and other debris that have been blown into your gutters by the Santa Ana winds. You can also look into gutter guards and other gutter protection products, available at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
2. Check your downspouts. Here’s another term you’re probably not familiar with. So again, as you’re examining your gutters, look for the metal or plastic tube running down from the gutter and poking out from your house. This is your downspout, and if it is working properly, it should be carrying all the roof runoff water three to four feet from your home’s exterior walls.
Check the effectiveness of your downspouts by running a hose through your gutters for 10-15 minutes, making sure that the water runs through them freely without backing up.
How many downspouts is enough? Experts say you should have one every 600-800 feet of roofing.
Are your downspouts dumping too close to the house? Now’s a good time to fix that, before the problem happens during our next rainstorm (Friday, by the way!). Again, Lowe’s and Home Depot have plenty of extensions that are usually less than $10.
3. Watch your grading. Southern California is a hilly place, and you might think that your home is on a raised area. It’s probably not. After the first four feet of the space outside of your home’s exterior walls, the ground should slope about six inches lower than your house. If you’re looking to improve this grading, read this carefully: Use clean fill dirt, NOT top soil, to build up that slope from your home—top soil is organic and will hold water against your home’s foundations!
Your gardener or a local landscaping company can get you that clean fill dirt, and should only cost you about $100 for a small truckload.
4. Move your garden. Go out and have a look at your landscaping. Is your garden (flower or vegetable) right up against your house? This could create problems, as gardens retain water and could facilitate water seeping into your home.
Suggestions: Make sure you leave some room for water to escape from your garden, perhaps using rocks as a border instead of your home’s wall or a retaining wall that links to the house. Even though it seems like it would make sense, don’t have your downspout feeding your garden, as it will oversaturate the soil with water. If you have large, dense bushes or shrubs, thin them out so that sun can get to the soil and dry out once in a while.
If you need help with any of this repair work, give us a call at PDR Inland Empire. We’re not just water, fire and mold remediation and restoration experts, we are licensed and bonded contractors also. We can help with repairs or remodels as well as restoring your home or business after a flood or fire. We hope we’re not too late to stop any damage happening to your home, but if we are, call us and we’ll be out to help as soon as possible. (877) 732-8471