Here in the Southwest desert our homes see some of the most extreme temperatures in the nation and are exposed to some of the harshest conditions for building materials anywhere. The information below will help you identify some of the issues that could contribute to costly repairs or damage if not addressed before the onset of our next monsoon storm.
Roofing System: What Should You Do – If your roof is 10 years old or older and you have not had your roof inspected in the last five years (regardless of what style or type of material is on your roof) you should contact a licensed roofing contractor today and schedule a roof inspection!
Roofing Systems Explained – Whether it is a shingle or tile roof, roofing materials often reach 160 degrees or more as a result of elevated temperatures in the attic. Materials used to seal dissimilar materials at the valleys, chimneys, vertical walls and vent pipes expand and deteriorate over time at these high temperatures. The typical useful life of most of these sealing materials is three to five years, so it becomes extremely important to have the roofing system inspected by a qualified roofing contractor a minimum of every five years.
Monsoon storms typically bring driving rain that will penetrate cracks and crevices in the roofing system and may also enter attic spaces through defective turbines and attic ventilation systems. Turbines are designed to rotate with a light breeze and will deflect incoming rain during a storm; however, a faulty turbine will allow the wind driven rain to rapidly enter the attic, so it should be sealed or replaced as soon as possible.
Often a roofing contractor need only spend a couple of hours on your roof using inexpensive materials to properly seal any potential points of moisture penetration and can typically provide you with a 12-month guarantee against future leakage. The cost for such service should be no more than a few hundred dollars if no major problems are identified and will be far less expensive than a roof leak and the associated water damage after the fact.
Air Conditioning System: What Should You Do – Identify your primary condensate drain(s) and ensure they are running freely and that the water is clear. When you find the primary drain, look up. Normally you will see a similar pipe high on the wall, which is the secondary condensate drain line. If the upper pipe is dripping, or you are unsure about were your primary condensate drain is running, you should contact a qualified air conditioning technician to ensure your system is operating properly.
Air Conditioning Systems Explained – Typical air conditioning systems in the Phoenix area are either a split unit with a condenser coil at ground level on the perimeter of the home, or a package unit located on the roof. Regardless of which system you have, the air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier and removes moisture from the conditioned air within the home. This moisture (or condensation) must run to the outside of the residence in a pipe. This pipe is typically identified by a white 3/4 inch PVC pipe terminating at a 90 degree turn-down at a low point on an exterior wall of the residence. It is also known as the primary condensate drain.
In the case of a split unit, the evaporator coil, or air handler, (the other half of this system) is typically located in the attic or, in some cases, a hallway closet or garage. It is this evaporator coil which produces the water that must exit through the condensate drain line.
During normal air conditioning months this condensate drain will drip. However, during the monsoon–months of high humidity–this drain line will run with water. Additionally, in homes with the evaporator coil in the attic, there should be a secondary drip pan to catch any water that may overflow the coil in the attic. Condensation overflowing the unit in the attic is not uncommon and is typically a result of poor filter changes or no maintenance on the system. This secondary condensate drain looks much like the primary condensate drain, only it typically comes out high on the exterior wall.
Grading & Drainage: What Should You Do – Ensure the openings from the rear of the property, typically gate(s) and area drains, are open on both sides of your property and are allowing the free flow of water to the front of the residence. Look at the grading and drainage of your lot and ensure that excess water does not pond adjacent to the exterior walls or foundation of the residence. If neccessary, have any ponding areas modified to ensure proper drainage away from the structure.
Grading & Drainage Explained – While the furthest thing from our minds at this time of the year is water building up around the perimeter of the residence, this is the most common time of the year that water intrusion or ponding water causes structural issues and moisture damage. Monsoon storms can bring as much as an inch of rain per hour or more, and ensuring this water does not pond up adjacent to the foundation is a critical concern.
Most residential lots are designed to drain the water from the roof and yard during a heavy rain to the street and, ultimately, the municipal storm drain. In the case of a block fence this means there are limited ways for the water in the backyard to get to the street. In most cases we have a gate in one side-yard and a block with decorative holes at the base of the block fence in the other side yard. This hole at the bottom of the fence is typically called an area drain as it allows the water to drain from one area (backyard) to another area (front yard).
If these area drains become clogged with litter, or the landscaping has been modified in such a way that the water from the backyard does not freely run to the front yard, then moisture penetration and/or structural movement due to ponding water activating expanding or compacting soils under the foundation becomes a real possibility.
AccuPro Inspection Services Can Help–Remember we not only do state certified home inspections, but also mold inspections and testing; indoor air quality testing; and maintenance and safety inspections; or any other limited inspection based on your specific needs or concerns. Call us anytime and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have, and if we can’t or don’t know the answer, we will find someone who does!
$25 Discount – Please mention this newsletter when you talk to our staff about your next inspection, or let your friends or family members know about our services, and we will give them a $25 discount off their next inspection.
I use AccuPro for all my home inspections and they are excellent at what they do!
Stephanie Weiss, REALTOR®
ValleyWide Property Services
480.273.7472 cell 866.935.1151 fax
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