November brings more than just an increased burden for letter carriers; it’s the start of our rainy season. Is your property ready? From top down, here are some areas to check.

Roof

Have a flat roof? What happens if its sole roof drain outlet gets clogged? Make sure it’s open and water can escape. Clear the roof and gutter of anything that may clog outlets. If you plan to re-roof, consider adding an emergency overflow outlet. If you have rain gutters, clean them out and run water through to make sure they’re clear.

  • Don’t forget to check the light-well roof.
  • If your roof leaked last year, did you get it fixed? If you see any seams opening up in the roof membrane, call a roofer experienced with your type of roof, and have it repaired. Rusty, deteriorating flashing, gaps around roof penetrations and pipes will leak. If your roof “ponds,” repair it or consider re-roofing. If you have a pitched roof with missing shingles, replace them.
  • Don’t forget: wood or tiled decks over living spaces have roofs, too. Consider plugging up the drain and doing a flood test to see if anything comes out underneath. Better to find out now when you can control the “rain” than when you’re on that long winter vacation.

 Walls

  • All wall systems leak. What’s supposed to keep the building from rotting out is the weather-resistive barrier (WRB) beneath the siding. Like roofs, walls too need to drain. That’s why you never want to caulk the bottom of lap siding, especially siding near the ground that sits up against the foundation. Make sure the water that gets behind the siding has a means to exit. Intelligent use of the caulking gun keeps water out where it can come in but not where it needs to leave! Remember, it dries or it dies.
  • Inspect any weep holes, (small openings that allow water to drain from within an assembly), for example, horizontal sliding windows. Such windows travel in a track that collects water that must be allowed to exit. The track is readily visible in older aluminum windows, but usually has a removable cover on newer vinyl windows. Look at the exterior window frame underneath the sashes (the part of the window that moves). There should be little flaps covering these weep holes. Dump some water in the track and make sure it can get out the weep holes – easy to do on aluminum windows but trickier on vinyl. Another overlooked weep system is metal door thresholds with a water-return feature. Remember: if it was designed to drain, make sure it can. If the door has damaged weather stripping, replace it.

Window Sills and Frames

  • The sill and corners of windows are most vulnerable to dry rot, and, poorly maintained, provide access points for water that leads to rot in wall structural members. Check where the window sill meets the jambs, and make sure they are sealed together.

Infrastructure

  • Wood fences usually succumb to gravity in the rainy season. The wood gets wet, making it heavier and weaker; the soil gets saturated and less supporting. A storm blows in and your fence collapses. If your old fence looks questionable, fix it now. The same goes for that leaning or cracked retaining wall.
  • Attachments: take a close look at items attached to your house, such as satellite dishes, antennas, etc. Could a strong wind blow them over and through one of your neighbor’s expensive windows?
  • With rain comes cold. If you have a newer high-efficiency condensing gas-fueled furnace, make sure the condensate neutralizer filter has material in it so that it isn’t sending acidic water into your plumbing system that will eventually corrode your pipes. While this is not a definitive list of items to consider in preparing your property for the rains, it lists among the most important ones.

Following these tips will go a long way toward ensuring that your property won’t be caught in the rain without its raincoat on.

 Kevin Stamm is a licensed building contractor “spending the rest of his days getting his San Francisco home ready for any eventuality.” He may be reached at (415) 647-8517 or kevinstamm@earthlink.net.