Stormwater

Homes without Gutters 

stormwater

 

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If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.

Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.

In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.

The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.

However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to the interior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.

Furthermore, the system used must:

    1. not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
    2. drain stormwater away from your home
    3. not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
    4. make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
    5. be capable of being easily maintained and cleaned

This leaves you will a choice of rainwater gutters or paving of some sort around the perimeter of your home.

Which system is better?

There are occasions when the correct stormwater dispersal system is necessary to protect your home’s walls and foundation. Some of these instances are:

Ground conditions

Most populated areas of South Africa have expansive soils. These soils contain a high percentage of clay which absorbs a lot of water. This can cause the soil to expand by a tenth or more as moisture enters it during the rainy season. Expansive soils may cause the foundation, walls or floor of your home to crack.

With gutters and downpipes or paving, you can direct the stormwater a safe distance from your home to prevent damage to your foundations and home.

Stormwater on Sloping stands

If your home is on a slope, at least one side may allow water to pool along the foundation both above and below ground. Gutters on that side of the home will allow you to redirect the water towards a downward sloping side.

In addition, a small channel along the ground will assist with any stormwater runoff from the landscaping. Again paving or gutters will do the job.

Roof overhang at the eaves

Roofs which have a two-tile overhang (600mm in the case of a metal roof) or less will allow water to pour from the roof close to the foundation (even worse in the case of double storey homes) creating numerous problems:

    • Frequent rains will cause trenches to form where the water drops onto the surface next to your house.
    • Stormwater pooling close to the foundation and absorbed by the ground can cause extensive damage over time.
    • Stormwater pouring off the roof splashes up against the walls of your home. This can cause moisture intrusion into the walls and damage to painted and plastered finishes.
    • Windows and doors are more exposed to windblown stormwater pouring over the edge of the roof resulting in increased possibility of moisture intrusion into your home.
    • The stormwater discharged from valleys in greater volume from the roof is problematic.

With the first two, the paved surround will do the job but fails when it comes to the last three.

However, in all five instances, gutters will provide greater protection against stormwater damage.

stormwater

Although gutters require frequent cleaning and some maintenance, they do provide additional protection for your roof and your home.

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A Smelly Shower

Smells in your shower

shower

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Often what happens in a shower, while the tiler is tiling the floor, is that excess tile adhesive and grout is washed down the shower drain. As a result, some of this grout may be lodged somewhere in the drainage system causing a blockage.

The following may have happened:

  • Either the trap or drainage pipes were damaged during an attempt to unblock the drain.
  • Grout is lodged in the trap and drain pipes.
  • The stub stack vent valve may be below the level of the highest plumbing fixtures on the drainage system in the bathroom.  As a result, the lowest fixture, such as the shower P-trap water seal may be syphoned out of the shower trap.

Of course, a combination of all three may occur as well. Unless the shower trap or drain pipes are damaged, you should be able to handle the cleanup yourself.

Mould in the P-trap

If your shower drain smells musty, you most likely have active mould growing underneath the drain cover. But, if your drain smells like rotten eggs or sewage, you’re either smelling bacteria from a clogged or dirty drain or sewer gases that have escaped from your drainage pipes.

As part of their metabolic process, active mould spores release a gas that has a distinct musty smell. In addition, that gas can be dangerous. If inhaled, it can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Hot water (not boiling)
  • Old toothbrush

Steps to remove mould from a shower drain:

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste.
  2. Use the toothbrush to apply the paste over the shower drain.
  3. Wait 10 minutes. Then use the toothbrush to scrub the entire shower drain thoroughly. Repeat as many times as needed to loosen any mould around or under the shower drain.
  4. Take 10 litres of hot water and pour it slowly down the drain.  Pour a cup of vinegar down the drain slowly.
  5. Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain.

A rotten egg or sewage smell in your shower

If your drain smells like rotten eggs or sewage you may have one of the following issues:

  1. Bacteria from a clogged drain
  2. Sewer gases are escaping your pipes

Bacteria from a clogged or dirty shower drain

Run your shower water full open for 2-5 minutes. Check if you have a slow drain.  If it drains slowly, that smell is the buildup of bacteria and decomposing debris inside your drain. The bacteria emit a sticky, glue-like substance that allows them to stick to almost any surface.

As result, you’ll need to get rid of the obstruction and debris that is trapping (and feeding) all that bacteria to get rid of that smell.

What you’ll need:

  • Drain brush cleaner
  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar

Steps to clear a clogged drain in your shower:

  1. Remove the shower drain grid with the screwdriver.
  2. Slowly pour 5 to 10 litres of water of very hot water down the drain (not boiling).
  3. Pour one cup of vinegar down the drain.
  4. Pour a half cup of baking soda immediately after the vinegar.
  5. Wait 2 hours then pour another 5 litres of hot water down the drain.
  6. Run a drain brush down the drain to remove any leftover debris. This also helps loosen and remove the bacteria’s sticky residue.

Sewage smell from your shower

If you don’t have a slow drain, you most likely are smelling sewer gases.

The amount you’re breathing in isn’t dangerous to your health. However, the smell does indicate that you have problems somewhere in your drainage system. Your drain pipes are designed to prevent any sewer gases from wafting back into your home.

The sewage smell in your shower could be:

  • A dry P-trap
  • No P-trap
  • Sewer backup

Unfortunately, you can only solve a dry P-trap problem on your own. If there is no P-trap or damaged P-trap you’ll need a plumber to fix it. However, before you call your plumber, try the following steps to see if your problem is just a dry P-trap!

How to fix a shower’s dry P-trap:

Firstly, shine a flashlight down your shower drain. You should see water at the bottom of the pipe connected to the drain.

But, if you don’t see water, you most likely have a dry P-trap. Sometimes the P-traps can dry out and leak nasty smelling sewer gases into your home.

However, if you don’t have a dry P-trap you will need a plumber to inspect your drainage system for other problems.

Do the following to fix a showers’ dry P-trap:

  1. Pour one or two cups of water down the drain and wait an hour.
  2. After an hour, take a look down the drain to make sure you can still see the water.
  3. If the shower barely gets used, pour ½ a cup of mineral or cooking oil down the drain (this slows evaporation and will keep the water in the trap longer).

If your shower P-trap is dry soon after this, you most likely have a cracked or broken P-trap or drain pipes. Furthermore, the level of the vent valve may have to be raised. Therefore, you’ll need to have a plumber repair or replace both.

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Clean Your Gutters and Roof Now!

Leafs and debris in your gutters

The first rains have arrived at last! However, you should have inspected and maintained your gutters and roof by the end of winter. But, if you haven’t, you better do so now! They may be clogged with leaves, debris and dust.

The flow of rainwater in the gutters and the downpipes may be blocked or restricted. They will overflow!

gutters

Your roof structure is or will be damaged!

Gather up your ladder, a plastic bag, your hosepipe and get busy. If you don’t, the timbers supporting your gutters may soon look like this!

gutters

If your roof does not have gutters installed, the roof structure probably has damage to the foot of the roof trusses. Check under the eaves of the roof for moisture damage before it’s too late.

gutters

Consider installing gutters before the roof timbers rot and fail. If they have rotted the repairs will be extensive and expensive!

Check your roof

Cut back trees and branches that deposit leaves and dead wood on the roof. Remove any debris from your roof. If one considers the job a bit tiresome, they could even go to the extent of hiring some good roofers from Glasgow, but eventually getting the job done should be the priority. They prevent the free flow of rainwater off the roof! Roof tiles and roof sheeting are not 100% waterproof. They are designed to be water-shedding systems rather than waterproofing systems.

gutters

Tiled roofs

Check your tiled roof while you’re up cleaning your gutters! Check for broken or cracked roof tiles, dislodged tiles and cracked mortar on the ridges and hips.

gutters

Foot traffic easily damages the tiles on your roof. If you walk on your tiled roof you will probably cause some damage. Also, consider the safety aspect! A fall from your roof can result in serious injuries and even death. Rather have a roofing specialist perform any repairs that are required.

Metal roofs

Metal roofs expand during the day and contact at night year in and year out. Roof screws and sealing washers loosen as a result. At least once per year you need to check the roof screws and reset if necessary. In addition, check the washers. Either seal or replace the damaged washers.

gutters

Climatic conditions and pollution reduce the life of metal roofs, particularly those close to industrial areas. Leaves and other debris retain the moisture which, in time, cause the protective zinc coating on roof sheeting to corrode.

Once corrosion of the zinc coating occurs special precautions have to be taken to prevent further corrosion. This can be coated with cold galvanising or special roof paint. Don’t try it yourself, rather leave it the preparation and coating for the specialists!

Maintain your roof and gutters

gutters

Keep your gutters and roof clean as you would the inside of your house.

If you don’t look after your roof, it won’t look after you!

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Leaks at Window Sills

Moisture Intrusion at Window Sills

 

window sills

During many property inspections, I keep coming across moisture problems associated with water leaking into window sills and at windows.

Moisture absorbed into brickwork and plasterwork causes them to expand slightly. When the brickwork and plasterwork dry they contract slightly. The water absorbed by the bricks and plasterwork usually causes a slight vertical crack at the edges of the internal window sills. The paint then starts to bubble along the vertical crack. This crack may continue around the length of the window sill before you notice it. What started out as a small vertical crack then becomes a horizontal crack along the bottom of the window sill on the interior face of the sill wall.

The cracks are usually not significant unless allowed to continue unabated.

Rising Damp

Sometimes the moisture intrusion at window sills is mistaken for rising damp! Water leaking in at the window sill may bypass the damp proof course (DPC) built in under the window sill as a water-resistant barrier. The moisture may then appear as bubbling paint or crazing cracking of plasterwork, or both, below the window, extending down to floor level.

On external face-brick walls, this may appear as efflorescence (a white powder).

Internally, this may appear as bubbling paint above the skirting or discolouration of the skirting itself.

How do you prevent the moisture intrusion into window sills?

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Home Warranty

Is a Home Warranty worth the money you pay?

 

home warranty

A new way to “protect” home buyers and enrich insurance companies is available in South Africa in the form of a “home warranty”!

The “Voetstoots Clause”

Thousands of homes are sold without any guarantee that the homes are free of defects. These homes are all older homes sold with the “voetstoots” clause in the “offer to purchase”. The Consumer Protection Act does not protect you, the buyer, in this case. Selling his home is not the seller’s normal course of business.

The seller’s disclosure is required to declare all known defects. Can you trust that document?

I would not!

You have to prove that the seller was aware of the defects and did not disclose them!

The defects could be maintenance issues or latent defects that the seller knows about, but that is hidden from view. Such defects can cost a lot of money to fix. Furthermore, the legal process is expensive and frustrating if there’s any doubt that the seller did not disclose known defects.

About the home warranty

An insurance company is offering a “home warranty” to protect you from issues and defects for a two year period. In addition, the premiums are determined on an individual basis according to the insurer.  However, the cost of this home warranty apparently ranges from R12,000 for a one million Rand home to R28,000.00 for a five million Rand home!

The seller can include the cover as a feature of the sale, or the buyer may insist upon the home warranty as a condition of the sale. In both cases, payment for the warranty forms part of the offer to purchase.

There are costs like certificates of compliance, levies and rates clearances, bond cancellation fees and the estate agent’s commission on the sale that all come off the selling price. Then there are the costs the seller has of buying a new property and moving to it as well!

I can only wonder how many sellers will want to cough up such a large amount of money?

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