Tips to Avoid Water Damage to your Home

Pacific Northwest Storms can lead to major water damage if you don’t take the steps to prevent it

Rains, wind, snow, and ice, oh my! The last few years have brought some memorable winter storms to the Pacific Northwest. None of us have forgotten the sheet of ice in late December! All of these unexpected winter storms converge into one big problem for homeowners: water damage.

We sat down with our home inspector, Stanton Bowmer-Vath, to talk about how homeowners can better protect their homes from water damage.

Why is water damage so common from Seattle area winter storms?

“Water is always the biggest damaging factor to PNW homes,” said Stanton.

Fallen trees, vegetation debris, and high winds often lead to a bigger and more expensive problem: water damage. When you live in the Emerald City, you know there is no shortage of rainfall. Protecting your home against water is the number one thing you can do to minimize potential issues from a storm.

Stanton recently inspected a home in Cle Elum that revealed water damage in the crawl space that originated from a snowpack on the roof. 

snow on the peak of a roof can leak into a home and cause water damage

“The snowpack on the roof had led to the deterioration of the faux chimney stones. Water was getting behind the flashing of the chimney. I later discovered standing water in the crawl space that had been dripping 2 stories down from the chimney.”

Check your crawl space for sneaky water accumulation

At another home Stanton inspected recently, he entered the crawl space to discover 1-2 feet of standing water.  

fans blowing in the crawl space of a home

“If this seller had looked in their crawl space in the early winter or fall when the rains first began this situation may have been less costly to remediate,” he said.

The cost to fix the water issue was upwards of $12,000. Click here to see Stanton’s video from the crawl space of this home.

Tips to avoid storm and water damage to your home (or at the very least, catch it early on!)

Stanton recommends that you do the following exterior maintenance and home checks regularly:

  • Keep your downspouts and gutters flowing and directed away from the home.
a hand cleaning dirt, debris and leaves out of a gutter
  • Grade the area around your house to prevent water intrusion. A good rule of thumb is 1″ of fall per foot of lineal distance at a minimum to grade away from the base of your home. (Look up at your overhang, and draw a mental line straight down to the ground. Keep the ground sloping away and dry for at least this distance)
  • Keep trees and vegetation cut away at least 4″-6″ from your house. If they are touching the home, they will trap moisture against the siding. 
rain pouring on the roof of a home that can cause water damage
  • Cut tree limbs away from hanging over your roof. Tree branches that overhang and break off from the wind or snow load can easily fall on the house. Branches can also take granules off shingles.
an arm holding a chainsaw cutting a tree limb
  • Stand back from your home and really look at the trees planted close to your house. If the general lean of the tree is towards the house or it is in a high wind corridor you may want to have it removed. 
  • Check your crawl space in the fall or early winter. This doesn’t have to be an intense inspection but if there are signs of water down there it needs to be mitigated.
  • Keep your roof clear of moss – never pressure wash it as it takes granules off your shingles and causes more damage than good. Consider having it cleaned by a professional. If you do decide to clean it yourself, Stanton recommends you use Moss Be Gone or Moss off. 
moss on a roof

“The best advice I can give homeowners is to be proactive-not reactive when it comes to home maintenance,” Stanton said.

The Six Degrees Team works closely with our trusted vendors to update and repair homes BEFORE we list them on the market. If your home could use some work, check out some of the before and after photos of homes we’ve updated/repaired and sold. To learn more about Stanton’s Home Inspection Services, visit his website here.

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