Wet and Dry – North Bay Historical Rain Patterns
When it rains, it pours! In northern California we get most our rain between October and April. After a long, dry summer people often forget to prepare their home for rain. If your gutters are clogged, shingles are damaged, skylights are open, or you haven’t checked the caulking over doors and windows you could be inviting unwanted water into your home. Better to be prepared and stay ahead of the curve.
Four Season Stewardship offers rain preparation services as part of our regular quarterly inspection and maintenance package. When it comes to water, a drop of prevention is worth a gallon of water! (avoided)
Many people have forgone their lawns and water greedy vegetation for sustainable, less demanding landscape solutions. Those in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties have embraced and pioneered creative ideas on how to live more conservatively during our long, dry summers. Despite periodic droughts, every summer and fall is the right time to prepare for forecasted rains.
Tips to Prepare for Floods and Rain:
- Rainstorms can bring heavy winds, so make sure your property is clear of any debris that could blow around. Store away or secure outdoor furniture and tidy up trees by removing dead and loose limbs. Spend an afternoon packing up any miscellaneous loose items around the yard and put them away for the season. Close any open skylights and windows that may have been propped open for the summer.
- Make sure all of your landscape drains are free of debris and flowing properly. During drought, many plant and tree roots bore themselves into drains in an attempt to find needed nutrients and moisture resulting in clogged drainage systems. Also, with little water running through them during drought years, sediment build up can cause slow drainage you cannot afford in a storm.
- If you have a basement, make sure the light wells and associated floor drains are kept clean and free of leaves and debris. Install sump pumps in crawlspaces that may be prone to moisture build-up. If you already have sump pumps in place, make sure they are functional by seasonal testing.
- Clean and inspect your rain gutters and downspouts. After doing a thorough gutter and downspout cleaning, do a visual inspection to check for any gaps, sagging gutters, or loose connections, especially at the downspouts. Water runoff from your roof, driveways and patios should always be directed away from the foundation of your home. Downspouts should deposit water into functioning drain systems or be day-lighted at least three feet way from the foundation.
- Inspect your roof or hire a roofing contractor to check for any loose shingles or tiles, holes, sagging or other signs of damage and aging. During the first rain of the season, check the interior of your home for signs of leaks and address them as quickly as possible. Mold can quickly grab hold in drywall and many other parts of the home posing health risks. Mold remediation can be very expensive if a leak is not caught early. Get a professional mold inspection and/or mold testing if there are visible signs of water damaged materials or mold growth.
- Make sure your doors and windows of your home are in good condition. Check and replace any deteriorated weatherstripping and address any existing leaks. You might replace or reinforce any single pane windows you may have around the home, as they are more likely to allow water to infiltrate the spaces at their edges. Either replace these windows or ensure their edges are well sealed.
- Check any retaining wall drains and make sure they are clear of obstructions. These should be checked a minimum quarterly, but ideally after each storm to ensure they are clear for the next event.
- Do a visual check for any sloping issues around the outside of your home. If you see any serious cracks, slumping, or gullying, these could be signs of a bigger problem and you may need to have the site inspected by a geotechnical or structural engineer.
- Do yourself and your neighbors a favor by checking the nearby storm drains. If you see any serious blockages notify the public agency responsible for their maintenance. A clogged street drain can cause flooding for entire blocks, and cleaning out a drain is an easy and low-cost preventative action.
- Many homeowners have let their lawns and planting areas go dry during the summer, leaving hardened, impermeable soil behind. If you have any bare patches of dirt or an expanse of dead lawn you will need to make these areas able to absorb the rains. Loosen and turn over the soil in the planting areas and aerate the lawn. If you have not already done so, build berms around the trees and large shrubs that will catch the water and direct it to the roots. The beginning of fall is a great time to plant new vegetation, lay down pavers or set-up “rain gardens” in any of these barren areas. Aerating dead lawns will avoid puddling, increase water permeation, and stop excess run-off. Give us a call if you have any concerns at all and we will be happy to come out and discuss.
Prepare for the Worst – House Flooding Scenario:
- Make sure your home insurance plan includes flood protection and check to see if the level of coverage is sufficient. You may want to make an itemized list of your belongings and save receipts to provide proof of their original cost. Video is another way to record your contents for future insurance claims.
- Collect and store sandbags in case of flooding. These will need to be placed in front of doors and flood prone areas about 1-1.5 ft high.
- Investing in an emergency kit is never a bad idea for any family. There are plenty of online services to guide you in creating one of your own, or you can purchase pre-made kits from any of the numerous emergency kit sites.
- Make sure you have an exit strategy. In the unlikely event you may need to evacuate your home because of flooding, it is good to ensure you have already laid out a plan of action for your family to follow.
- Save Healthy Building Science and Four Season Stewardship in your emergency contacts in case of flooding.