When it comes to water intrusion, even small issues can lead to large consequences. For example, a minor leak can be a catalyst for dry rot, which, if allowed to progress unchecked, can spread throughout a home’s substructure and create a dangerous condition (not to mention a costly repair bill). That’s why it’s best to take a preventative approach by learning how to waterproof your home. Whether sealing your exterior siding or your kitchen sink, waterproofing your home will help to avoid water intrusion from both exterior and interior sources.
How to waterproof your home exterior
Since there are many ways for water to enter your home from the outside, you’ll need to address exterior waterproofing from multiple angles. Here are three major measures:
- Seal gaps and cracks. Most homes (especially older ones) contain gaps and cracks in exterior elements like siding panels or door and window trim. These gaps and cracks leave the home’s substructure vulnerable to water intrusion from things like rainy weather and exterior washing. To prevent this, go around your home and seal all visible gaps and cracks with a paintable latex caulk rated for exterior use. For any gaps larger than a quarter-inch in width, use a plastic foam filler to ensure a thorough seal.
- Repaint failing paint. Paint isn’t just for looks—it also seals your home’s wood siding against moisture intrusion. If your exterior paint is in poor condition, consider having it repainted before the rainy season sets in. In general, it’s best to take a preventative approach to repainting your home. Rather than waiting for the paint to break down, plan to repaint at a predetermined interval that will provide an ample window of performance without creating an increased risk for water intrusion issues.
- Inspect and reseal roof waterproofing components. A roof contains several ventilation pipes and other apertures, all of which are sealed to prevent water from getting into the gaps and leaking into the attic. However, many homeowners forget that sun exposure causes rubber collars, caulking and other waterproofing materials to erode at an accelerated rate. That’s why it’s important to have your roof inspected regularly to verify these materials are in good repair. It doesn’t cost much to replace a rubber pipe jack collar or reapply some caulking on your roof, but the price of neglecting these measures can be exorbitant.
How to waterproof your home interior
While rainy weather isn’t a concern for your home interior, the presence of water fixtures represents an ongoing water damage risk, regardless of the season. That’s why it’s just as important to waterproof your bathrooms and kitchen as it is your roof and siding.
In the bathroom, all gaps, cracks and seams in and around sinks, showers, and bathtubs should be sealed with a high-quality silicone caulk. In particular, it’s important to seal all corners inside the shower, as well as any cracks in the grout, as this will prevent water from leaking into the walls or flooring. Likewise, you should seal the edges of your bathtub to prevent moisture intrusion.
Here’s how to caulk your bathtub in three steps:
- Use a caulking gun to apply a single bead of caulk along the bottom of the tub.
- Wipe the bead of caulk with your finger to push it into the gap.
- Using a slightly moist sponge, wipe the caulk again to smooth it out. You may need to repeat this step a few more times—just make sure to rinse the sponge between applications.
In the kitchen, the most important areas to seal are the gaps between the sink, countertop and backsplash. Sealing these gaps will prevent water from leaking into either the wall or the under-counter cabinets. As in the bathroom, these areas can be sealed using a silicone caulk.
Keep in mind that sealing your bathroom or kitchen isn’t a one-time measure. Any sealant wears out over time, at which point it will cease to provide the protection it once did. Inspect your bathroom and kitchen annually and reapply any caulking that looks worn out or is peeling off.