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As winter gives way to warmer weather and spring begins to bloom, heavy rain storms pose a threat to homeowners. Homes that aren’t properly protected from the elements are at risk of flooding and mold infestation, which can cost thousands of dollars to fix once the damage is done.

Water damage claims have been growing faster than other components of homeowners insurance in recent years, according to the American Insurance Association. Water and moisture damage not only affect homes, but health as well. Moisture creates the ideal breeding ground for mold growth, which can trigger allergic reactions and a host of health problems.

Since mold cannot grow without the presence of moisture, preventing mold from growing in the home starts with taking the proper steps to safeguard against water infiltration. In anticipation of the rainy season’s arrival, now is the time to take action.

Water damage prevention starts with a thorough home inspection. It’s every homeowner’s responsibility to make sure the inside and outside of the home is properly inspected and protected against water damage. REALTORS® can help their clients take a proactive approach to protecting their homes from water damage by recommending a home inspection company that goes beyond the basics to provide professional and comprehensive home evaluations.

An inspection team evaluates more than 1,600 items in and around the home, taking the worry out of the weather’s effect on the home, and giving homeowners peace of mind.

Potential Problem Areas

Roof: There are several culprits to identify when protecting against water damage. The roof is the area that takes the brunt of heavy rains, so it must be maintained properly to prevent leaks. Air should be flowing freely through all roof vents, which will reduce the build-up of heat and moisture and extend the life of the roof. Shingles should be inspected, and any cracked, broken or curling shingles should be replaced. The roof should lso be inspected for damage around the chimney, vents and valley areas.

Gutters: Gutters should be clean and clear of debris to ensure proper drainage. They should also be stabilized so they stay firmly in place, even in the event of high winds and heavy rains. Splash blocks should be placed at the end of downspouts to carry water away from the home’s foundation. Downspouts should be sloping away from the house, carrying water a safe distance away from the foundation.

Attic: Attics should be inspected for moisture and surface discoloration. Checks should be performed around flues, plumbing vents and chimneys.

Basement: A thorough inspection of the basement is vital to protecting a home from the elements because it houses many of the home’s maintenance systems, including electrical wires, pipes, sump pumps and heating and cooling systems. Sump pumps should always be tested before the rainy season starts because they assist in keeping unwanted water out of the home.

Doors and windows: Door and window flashing, seals and weatherstripping should be checked for cracks or gaps. Any damaged areas in caulk should be resealed.

Foundation: It’s a mistake to assume every foundation is waterproof. As the house shifts and settles over time, cracks are created, leaving an open invitation to water infiltration.

Home inspection services can save homebuyers thousands of dollars in the long-term. It’s a risky gamble to not have a home inspected for potential problems. Exhibiting transparency is a REALTOR’S® responsibility to their clients. When a client sees you’re doing everything possible to know the condition of the home, they’ll be more likely to close on the sale. Referring clients to an unbiased, third-party inspector is the best option.

Dan Steward is the president of Pillar To Post Home Inspections.

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