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Prepare for Melting Snow

Snow MeltWater is always eager to make its way into our living spaces. One crack is all that is needed to cause a serious problem in any indoor environment. As temperatures increase after a snowy winter, homeowners should be aware of vulnerable areas such as rooftops, windows, and other possible ports of entry. Home inspectors Nick Gromicko and Ethan Ward of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors say basements are particularly susceptible.

Basements are typically the area of a structure most at risk for water damage because they are located below grade and surrounded by soil. Soil releases water it has absorbed during rain or when snow melts, and the water can end up in the basement through leaks or cracks. Water can even migrate through solid concrete walls via capillary action, which is a phenomenon whereby liquid spontaneously rises in a narrow space, such as a thin tube, or via porous materials. Wet basements can cause problems that include peeling paint, toxic mold contamination, building rot, foundation collapse, and termite damage. Even interior air quality can be affected if naturally occurring gasses released by the soil are being transmitted into the basement.

InterNACHI Downspout Illustration (used with permission)Gromicko and Ward encourage homeowners to check all gutters and downspouts, making sure that melting snow is routed away from the building. Ideally all water pooling should occur at least 10 feet from the home. This is something important to check when buying or renting a home. (For more information, see our section on Home Buying Tips.)

If you suspect moisture is creeping into your basement, a moisture meter is a simple and affordable way to check for water intrusion. Moisture meters are available for less than $30 on Amazon or at your local home improvement center.

Gromicko and Ward offer suggestions for repairing cracks using a mixture of epoxy and latex cement for smaller cracks, or mortar for cracks more than 1/8 inch. In addition, they provide specifics for applying sealants to walls and floors. See their article Basic Waterproofing for Basements to learn more.

When it comes to melting snow, a little awareness and pro-action can go a long way toward enjoying the spring thaw!

Quotes

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

Dedication