June 2017 Blog

Greetings all! Yes, it has been a pretty wet spring. It feels like it’s been raining forever, you’re still turning on the seat heater in your car, and the last thing you want to do is pull on those galoshes and keep your appointment with to look at houses in the pouring rain.

Well, before you bag that appointment and opt instead to curl up with the cat and a good book, here are some very good reasons why you absolutely should go house hunting in the rain.

Water, water everywhere

If you if you’ve spent any time with people who have experience buying and selling houses, chances are you’ve heard more than your fair share of horror stories about water and moisture problems in houses.

Water problems can be one of the biggest deal breakers when you’re buying or selling a house. Wet basements, poorly draining rain gutters, mold in the bathroom or attic, or areas of standing water around the foundation can be signs of headaches to come.

Since your time is precious and this is just a short blog, let’s focus today on the basement.

Telltale signs of water problems

The first place to look for potential moisture problems in a home is the basement. Older homes can be very susceptible to moisture, dampness and problems related to moisture, such as the higher probability of insect infestation, mold and mildew growth, and even radon contamination.

If you are in the market for an older home, you may find a house with a dirt floor and solid, stone walls in the basement. We have dozens and dozens of beautiful homes in our region that are over a hundred years old, some even older. Many of them have the original stone basement walls and some of them even have dirt floors. It should not be a deal breaker if a home has those elements, after all, the house has been standing “rock-solid” for a long time. Still, know that you may want to put place a moisture barrier over the dirt and/or ultimately cement the basement floor once you’ve settled in. And, as with all houses, you will want to have a structural inspector look over the entire house.

Older basements may be more susceptible to moisture, dampness and insect infestation. Yet, as indicated above, there are certainly ways to remediate moisture issues associated with old, dank basements. 

 On a personal note, my current house was built in 1909 and came complete with stone walls and dirt floor. The dirt floor (and the water that seeped up) did not matter to us, as we truly LOVED the house. We’ve been in the house for over 13 years and I have since learned that a lot of people considered purchasing our house when listed years ago….and, they might have purchased, had it not had the dirt floor. That worked out great for us, because we got the house and now, 13 years later…..we now have a cement floor!

Look to see if there is a de-humidifier operating in the basement? And, is there a sump pump?

Many houses have sump holes, yet if there is sump pump, it is evidence that there may be a moisture issue. When you are house shopping during rainy seasons such as the one we’ve been experiencing, it’s likely that you are going to get a more realistic view of just how damp a basement is. Check the walls, corners and floor of a basement for signs of excessive dampness. Are there water rings on the walls or damp spots on the floors and walls? This should be observed in old and new homes.

If there is a de-humidifier or fans running, be sure that you ask the important questions, such as how many hours each day the de-humidifier is running. How many times does it need to be emptied? And ask to make an appointment for a second showing when it’s not raining to see if how the basement feels…it is still damp, is the de-humidifier is still running? It’s all good information to gather so you can make your house selection with all important facts.

Some people are installing radon mitigation systems in their basement, not because they have a problem with radon, but because a radon mitigation system also removes humidity and moisture from a basement. The cost to install a radon system may be between $1,300 to $1,500, yet, it is cheaper to run annually than a dehumidifier and will definitely save money in the short and long-term.

Be on the lookout for signs of moisture in the rest of the house

There are plenty of small, but telltale signs that a home may have some moisture problems. Look carefully at carpeting, wood headers, sill plates, joists, and columns for dampness. Are there signs of mold and mildew in the bathroom, laundry area or kitchen? And, of course, do the smell test. Do rooms and closets smell dank or musty? 

Finally, are there little critters sharing the house? And, by “little critters,” I’m talking about the kind with dozens of legs. Centipedes, silver fish, ants and other creepy crawly things love a damp, moist environment.

While of course, you’re not likely to come across an army of ants on patrol when you are looking at homes, that is where it is SO important to have a home inspector who will look carefully for signs of infestation, structural damage from moisture, and other symptoms of a wet or damp house.

So, grab those galoshes and that golf umbrella and get back out hunting for the perfect house! 

And, if you’re thinking of selling your home, look to see what’s happening to your own house during the rain and determine if you see signs of moisture. If you do, have an inspector look into it before you place your house on the market.