You don’t need to be an experienced building inspector to know that puddles in the sub-floor void of your home, or a lake on the front lawn are signs of a drainage issue to your property. However many drainage problems are not so obvious. Below is a list of some of the more subtle signs that commonly occur at inspections carried out by our experienced team of inspectors at Melbourne House Check, and how you can save yourself thousands of dollars by identifying these issues now before they become bigger problems down the track.
1. Overflowing Gutters – Apart from actually checking the gutters in the middle of a downpour, some other signs that gutters might be spilling water adjacent to foundations are – dirty streaks on the outer face of gutter or external wall cladding, and paint peeling off the house or fascias in vertical strips are sure signs that there is an issue with the gutters. It might be as simple as leaves and debris causing blockages to downpipes; or perhaps gutters do not fall correctly, creating ponding which may require re-alignment or replacement.
2. Cracks in foundations or brick walls – Small cracks often appear as houses settle over a period of time. However excess moisture in the ground adjacent to foundation, can create pressure that causes the cracks to continue to open up. Any crack larger than 3mm in width can potentially be a problem, and requires attention. Monitor the cracks by recording the width at a particular point. If you notice that the cracks are increasing, you have potential problems and urgent rectification of drainage issues could be required.
3. Damp soil or musty smells in the sub-floor void – These issues are not always obvious to the untrained eye. That is, there does not need to be puddles or mud present in order for moisture to cause wet rot decay to timber stumps or foundation movement to concrete pads or strip footings. Sometimes water stains are visible to the bottom or stumps, or efflorescence to brick walls (white flakey mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water). Often this occurs when external ground levels are higher than ground levels under the house and surface water wants to find its natural low point.
4. Gulley’s carved in landscaping / movement of soil or mulch – You might find after a rainfall that mulch or silt is dumped on pathways or areas where they shouldn’t be. Or gulley’s are carved in garden beds. The water run-off causes this erosion or movement when there is excessive water and it is not draining as it should.
Identifying issues of poor drainage at an early stage is essential, in order to prevent serious structural issues in the future. If you think you have a potential problem but are having difficulty finding the source, inspectors at Melbourne House Check are here to assist you. We conduct house inspections Melbourne wide, so please callfor advice on 1300 729 352. Alternatively, complete our on-line query request form and we will contact you to arrange an inspection.
The attached photos were taken during an inspection this week in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, highlighting why it is crucial to identify and rectify such drainage problems as soon as possible.