How should I handle a leak? Depends.

One of the most common emergencies a homeowner faces is a water leak. In it’s various forms a plumbing leak, a basement leak or a roof leak it is all troubling and can lead to damage and great expense. Two things to remember
  1. Panic is the enemy
  2. Preparation is the ally
I recently talked with a friend who had a blockage in their drain and it was leaking in the basement. He panicked and called one of the big plumbing outfits, ouch! He spent $900 getting the pipes rooted and a few things replaced. It was essentially $40-$50 in parts and the rest, I guess was labor. But they knew he was panicking and that allows for a little extra charging. If he were better prepared he could have taken his time got a couple of bids and probably got the work done for $200-$300. Plumbing leaks Preparing for leaks is difficult, especially plumbing leaks. You don’t know when or where a plumbing leak will happen or if it will be water or sewer. You need to make sure you have some plastic, some buckets and some towels available at all times. Even better is a shop vac or a mop and bucket. If you own a home you should have these ready ahead of time, especially if you are remote, you may not have the time to run to the nearest store to buy what you need, or it may not be during opening hours at the local hardware store. You need to know where your water main is turned off, some homes have an easy access turn off inside the house while others are out on the curb where the city water enters the property. Roof Leaks The best way to deal with a roof leak is stay ahead of any potential issues. Inspect your roof regularly. Keep your roof free of debris and moss, and clean your gutters and downspouts out at least once a year. If it’s a roof leak you are dealing with you should aim to have your roof repaired. If your budget won’t allow for a repair then there are some things that you can do to make it through to the next time you can afford to repair it. I have used roofing tar on cracked shingles and on rusted valley channels. That has gotten me through a wet winter to do the repair the following year on a glorious sunny day. I have also tarped larger sections of roof for the same reason. Basement Leaks Basement leaks are tricky, but most people know that their basements are leaking or damp or that in heavy rain events they leak from certain locations. I recall renovating a basement that the owner assured me was dry. It was late summer and there had been no rain for months. Just as we were installing the insulation one of my crew left a hose on outside and voila the basement started leaking in several different spots. I explained to the owner that this was a disaster. As soon as it rained all this beautiful basement work was going to be ruined. There would likely be mold problems (see previous post, Aaaargh! Mold...) which would create a whole other set of complex and expensive issues. It turns out the owner knew the leak was there but thought it wasn't a big deal. We solved the problem with a clever surface drainage solution and the basement has remained dry now for many years. If you know your basement leaks DO NOT TRY TO BUILD IT IN. Before any work solve the problem. Test that the solution works and do not gamble, it could cost a fortune and mold could be detrimental to you and your families health. If your basement suddenly starts to leak check for the reason. There maybe a burst pipe, there may be a disconnected downspout and there may even be an aggressive tree or shrub nearby. For long term foundation leak issues and the correct technique to repair this issue check the earlier post French Drain or Freedom Drain. Good luck and be prepared.
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