Carpentry, Cleaning, Home, Repairs

How to fix and prevent home damage disasters

prevent home damage disasters

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In the course of a home’s life, thinks can break a lot. And home improvement does not always mean that you have to buckle up your tool belt and fix bugs right away – that’s no problem for many things, they can really wait. But: There are also damages, which are the equivalent to the broken cylinder head gasket on the car. They need to be fixed immediately. Our guide looks at various types of problems and tells you how to fix and prevent home damage disasters — before they get worse!

Prevent home damage disasters: the different types

1. Clogged gutters

Not everything is always good from above. In fact, there are many things that can kill the house – think about the destructive ingredients of rain that even gnaw away rock. The rain gutter, however, is usually something other than acid rain. It works like a big funnel into which everything that accumulates on the roof is washed into it. With water and small dirt particles (such as moss), that’s no problem. However, collecting leaves, especially in autumn, in larger quantities, this can cause them to be bundled flushed into the gutter that they not only clog the gutter itself, but also the opening to the downpipe.

What happens if I do not fix it?

Then happens the same thing that happens in the clogged sink with open tap, the container overflows. In the gutter that can cause a variety of harmful disadvantages. The worst of it is the soaking of the underlying masonry.

In a typical rain fall lasting several days, dozens of liters of water per square meter of roof surface are quickly produced. They then pour over the façade, moisten the masonry and thus become a source of mold and tangible structural damage. With a bit of bad luck, the water also pushes a veritable ball of leaves deep into the downpipe, where it can hardly be reached without disassembling it.

How do I proceed?

As soon as you notice that the gutter overflows, you have to act fast: put on sturdy shoes, put on a narrow hand scoop, a bucket and a sufficiently long ladder, a second person to hold on to the latter and then go up.

First, the area around the downpipe connection is cleaned. Then the rest of the gutter step by step. Then, if it is still raining, quietly observe the situation from above for a few minutes to check whether the water is running well to prevent home damage disasters.

How do I avoid it in the future?

By carefully cleaning the gutters each year before the start of the fall and watching them suspiciously. This work can be greatly simplified by installing gutter grids that prevent leaves from falling into them – and possibly even cutting down near-by trees that could be considered as culprits to prevent home damage disasters.

2. Damaged roofing

Hardly any area of ​​the house has to suffer as much from the weather as the roof. Sun pops mercilessly on it, heats up the covering partly on hotplate temperature. Come rain, they are shock-cooled within seconds, pull together. Run-off rainwater, along with dust, acts like an eternal maelstrom of emery paste. Hailstones suggest that hundreds of kilos of snow load are often used in winter – and the wind keeps shaking the bricks and slates all year round. Although roof coverings are designed for all these loads, it is the ravages of time that are helping to damage them.

What happens if I do not fix it?

Then the roof will leak at individual points. Water penetrates. It drenched the underlying rafters, the insulating material. Rot arises, or mold. The roof rots downright. And as further penetrating water accelerates these processes again, the damage that finally can make a whole house collapse adds up.

Also this super-problem began with some cracked roof tiles, which were ignored for years, until the substructure was rotted.

How do I proceed?

It depends on what the roof is made of. Are it normal, hinged tiles, you can replace them on your own. It looks similar with tarred flat roofs, which can be made waterproof again by repairing the damaged area with bituminous compound to prevent home damage disasters.

How do I avoid it in the future?

The regular cleaning of the gutter is already an important point, but for the care and maintenance of the roof areas at the house are still several more steps – depending on the type of roofing:

Regular (before and after winter) inspection of the covering, preferably from the ground via binoculars.

Immediate replacement of defective roofing elements.

Mending cracked mortar sites.

Check the rafters in the attic (see point eight).

Removal of dirt accumulation, such as washed out dust on flat roofs and moss approaches (sponge effect).

That sounds like more work than it actually is, especially since you can conclude a maintenance contract with a specialist company for the more difficult jobs. And: Above all, the cleaning can be done quite easily with a coarse broom with a long handle – especially from the roof window.

3. Cracked or chipped plaster

No house is completely solid. Especially not when it is on a road and its automotive vibration is exposed. If there is still wind, solid walls in the micrometer range move. This can cause the relatively hard plaster (both inside and outside) to rupture over time. Similar to new buildings, where the entire building can additionally “work” by settlement movements up to several years.

What happens if I do not fix it?

In some cases, cracks are initially cosmetic problems, but they can also develop into serious harm. However, even the narrowest cracks are subject to the capillary effect. Water penetrates. It freezes in winter and thus increases – similar to street potholes – the crack. This can then gradually become a real problem because the masonry or facade insulation gets wet.

Such cracks can no longer be explained by normal setting movements – in this case, plastering must be carried out over a large area to exclude consequential damage.

How do I proceed?

Narrow cracks under 0.2mm can be quickly sealed with some acrylic and painted over with facade paint. But if the crack is bigger, you need some extra work:

  1. Tap the plaster around the crack with a hammer handle to see if it has come off the ground (sounds dull).
  2. Loose plaster (extremely careful with façade insulation) with hammer and chisel.
  3. Properly repaint the damaged area and also use the right plaster.
  4. Use a wall paint that matches the degree of aging of the façade (professionals can mix it with the help of old paint).

How do I avoid it in the future?

Unfortunately, not at all. On the cracking one has little influence. Here you can only watch and turn off any damage immediately.

4. Drilled power line

Not every wall has the power lines running as accurate vertical and horizontal, as you would like. Especially in old buildings with unclear history, it was often subsequently retrofitted to the lines and these laid illegally diagonal. It is therefore possible, even if one adheres to the rule “Never drill exactly above, below or sideways-horizontal of switches, plug and junction boxes”, for a pipe to be drilled.

What happens if I do not fix it?

At a minimum, the associated fuse will pop out of the drill causing a short circuit. Thus, the immediate danger is stopped. However, if you turn the fuse back on, it could come in the wall to catch fire – with corresponding consequences.

If the cables are drilled, you can only carefully expose the damaged area and reconnect the damaged cables in a flush-mounted junction box.

How do I proceed?

The most important thing is that there is no voltage. With a two-wire voltage tester, you should first check all sockets in the environment to ensure that the drilled cable is really stress-free. Then:

  1. Using a hammer and chisel, carefully remove the masonry around the drill hole until the pipe is exposed.
  2. Cut the line clean.
  3. Enlarge the hole so that a flush-mounted distribution box can be set.
  4. Place the box with the construction adhesive, insert the cable ends, strip it and connect it with new terminals – switch on the fuse, check everything with the voltage tester.
  5. Close distribution box, plaster and cover it.

5. Dripping taps and pipes

Even clean tap water always contains lime and of course oxygen. Over the years, this can cause deposits to form inside a faucet – limestone, resulting in hardening seals and sometimes rust that gnaws at metal pipes. At some point, the mechanics can not close the water flow as completely as it was intended. It’s dripping.

Where taps are dripping, lime is usually not far. Inside it blocks a complete closing of the shut-off mechanism.

What happens if I do not fix it?

It is getting expensive. How expensive can be calculated by placing a measuring cup under the dripping tap or pipe for one hour and extrapolating the amount of water collected. In addition, things get worse over time. And especially when a rusty-dripping pipe bursts due to the postponed repair, it can be even more expensive if rooms are submerged.

How do I proceed?

With the (exposed) dripping line the procedure is easiest: There are sealing clamps for this purpose. They are placed around the outside of the pipe, screwed down. As a result, they simultaneously seal off how they depressurise the damaged area.

Important: If the water pipe is under plaster, you should call the specialist. Also, because such a repair is insurance damage.

gerhardt-richter Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.