Your roof has a tremendous surface area that is excellent at collecting water during a rain storm. Hopefully all that water is going to a gutter and eventually to a downspout. Where does the water go once it leaves the downspout? Ideally, the downspout is connected to a perimeter or stormwater drain so that water is taken away from your foundation. Frequently, water is pooling at the downspout and can make its way to your foundation and lead to a very wet crawlspace or structural damage.
Take a look at the downspouts at your house. Are they connected to a drain system or are they able to spew water on the ground next to your house? If the downspout ends at the ground like the above pictures, you have a potential problem. All that water can erode the dirt around the foundation and lead to moisture penetration at the foundation and in to the crawlspace. An easy fix is either a splash block or a downspout extension (pictures below). They need to go at the end of the downspout and placed so that they direct water away from the house.
Tools and Material Required: Utility knife and/or drywall saw, small piece of thin wood (I used 1/2" plywood), replacement piece of drywall.
Do you have wall siding that is in contact with concrete? This is a common site of water penetration and long term can lead to hidden damage in the wall framing. There needs to be a gap between wall siding and any contact with concrete or earth to allow water to drain. If this isn't possible, flashing needs to be installed to help with water shedding.
These pictures show a wall where the siding that was in contact with the concrete patio has been removed for further investigation. The siding showed signs of rot and the wall framing behind looks to have been in contact with water for awhile. The sill plate and rim joist (important framing pieces) are rotted out from the long term presence of water. This homeowner will need to consider some extensive repairs. The sill plate and rim joist need to be cut out and replaced with sound wood.
Is your smoke alarm more than 10 years old? Time to replace and while you are at it, I recommend you upgrade your smoke alarm to dual sensor models that have both ionization and photoelectric capabilities. Read on below for step by step instructions on how to replace an existing hardwired smoke alarm in your home.
These directions are specific to to replacing a hardwired (connected to household AC current) and interconnected smoke detectors. If you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wires consider having a qualified party do this work.
1. Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the circuit for your fire alarm.
2. Remove the existing smoke alarm from the ceiling bracket.
3. Test at the smoke alarm wire pigtail to ensure that the power is off.
Step 4: Remove the pigtail wires from the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 5: Loosen the screws holding the existing bracket to the ceiling junction box. Remove the bracket.
Step 6: Pull the existing wires out of the junction box. There should be a black wire, white wire and a red wire in the box. The pigtail connection to the alarm will have a black wire, white wire and either a red or orange wire. Remove the wire nuts and separate the old pigtail from the ceiling wiring.
Step 7: Match up the pigtail connector wiring to the existing house wires. Black attaches to black. White to white wire and Red or orange to red.
Step 8: Make a connection between the pigtail wires and the house wires using a wire nut. Make sure that the wire colors match.
Step 9: Tuck the house wires and connections back in to the junction box.
Step 10: Thread the pigtail connection through the ceiling bracket.
Step 11: Secure the new ceiling bracket to the junction box and ceiling by replacing and tightening the screws that were loosened in step 5.
Step 12: This step is optional but highly recommended. Write the date of installation for both the battery and smoke alarm prior to installing in the bracket. This will make it easy in the future to know when the battery and alarm need to be replaced.
Step 13: Connect the pigtail adapter to the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 14: Gently place the pigtail in to the junction box while seating the smoke alarm body.
Step 15: Seat the alarm body in the bracket. Twist to seat. You may have a ribbon to pull to activate the alarm. Pull gently and steadily to remove the ribbon and activate the alarm.
Step 16: Cover your ears and push the test button to make sure that the new alarm works.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.