Barnum Building & Design Industry Info

Know how to spot and prevent water damage to maintain the integrity and appearance of your home.

Whether it’s seeping in through poorly flashed windows and doors, coming in through the roof or foundation, or caused by poor drainage, water damage can threaten the appearance and stability of your home. However, if you know what to look for and how to prevent it, you can protect your home against problems like mold and rot. Consider the following information:

If you notice a moldy smell; flaking or peeling paint on walls; or moisture, dampness or stains on ceilings and walls, it could be a sign of seeping water. “You should also look for brown spots on drywall or wood near interior windows,” says Adam Barnum, owner of Barnum Building & Design in San Francisco. “You’ll often see these spots on the bottom corners of windows because that’s where water will pool. Water won’t necessarily show until it comes in contact with a horizontal surface. When it hits resistance, it’ll sit there and rot away the wood.”

According to Mr. Barnum, proper flashing is the best way to prevent water damage. He specifically suggests making sure your house has flashing above the windows to prevent rainwater from seeping in. “It’s ideal to install flashing during the initial construction, but you can have a contractor install it on your finished home as well,” he says. “It’s not something everyone thinks about, but it’s definitely worth doing.”

If you have new siding installed on your home, make sure it ends at least six inches above the ground. “When siding touches the ground, the grain of the wood can suck up water like a straw and rot the wood on your home,” explains Mr. Barnum. “On top of water retention from falling rain, this can be a very damaging problem.”

Cracked or old foundations can also let in water and cause water damage. “Old brick foundations can leak water like a sieve,” says Mr. Barnum. “A contractor can replace your old foundation and put down a waterproof membrane to prevent water from seeping in.” French drains and other drainage techniques can also be installed outside your home to keep water from collecting and seeping inside.