Newspaper

20 Chores to do for the monsoon season

The Arizona Republic

        It’s time to stock up on drinking water and flashlight batteries in case you need them during monsoon season power outages or floods. And it’s time to prepare your house and yard for an onslaught of wet, windy weather that really doesn’t have to cause as much damage as it does every year. Here are 20 chores you can do at home before, during and after the monsoon rains to prevent the water from creating problems that so quickly can turn into emergencies:

Before

  1. Patch the roof. Don’t wait for water marks to appear on your ceiling before inspecting your roof to see if it can hold up during a storm. Climb up onto your roof now (or ask a roofer to do it) and inspect every roof penetration: around the chimney, vents, skylights, walls, flashing, air conditioning elbows and stands, antennas and support wires, and satellite dishes. Patch cracks along the seams of rolled roofing and for holes pecked by birds in foam roofing. A tip: If your roof is relatively new, check with your roofer before doing any repairs yourself. Unauthorized repairs could void your warranty.
  2. Get to know a roofer. Like a doctor, your roofer is someone you should have a relationship with before there’s an emergency. Just in case your roof springs a leak that you can’t control during the storm, it’s a good idea to know who you’re going to call, what the emergency phone number is and whether the pro will respond during off-hours.
  3. Trim tree branches. Heavy branches hanging over your roof can break and slam so hard onto the house during a storm that they can damage a foam roof or asphalt shingles. Likewise, dead or rotting branches can snap off and fly into windows and siding.
  4. Stake young trees. Drive strong, tall wooden stakes at least two feet into the ground, and tie your trees to them. While you’re at it, secure or store any fly-away objects on your lawn or patio, like furniture, barbeque grills and playground equipment.
  5. Install rain gutters and downspouts. They will divert water from heavy downpours way from your house. That’s important because when too much water gets under your house, it can cause clay-based soil to swell or sandy soil to shrink. As the soil dries out, it can heave or settle and cause your foundation to crack. Connect the downspouts to underground drains that will carry the water toward the street.
  6. Add drains to driveways, sidewalks and other hard surfaces that can’t absorb water to prevent it from running toward your house or someone else’s.
  7. If you have time and can afford it, consider upgrading your concrete patio or driveway to “permeable” pavers, which are riddled with holes to create a hard concrete surface with plenty of room for water to soak right through. This stops much of the runoff during a monsoon rainstorm, which means you’re sending less water into other yards or into the city sewer system.
  8. Stop runoff from your yard from flowing into the neighbor’s. Best precaution: Have your yard graded with a slope of 2 percent to 5 percent away from your house so water won’t pool near your foundation. Add drains that will collect the water and carry it toward the street—not toward your neighbor’s yard.
  9. Install a cover over your cement or stone patio to keep the rain off it. Monsoon rains can come down so fast and hard that the soil can’t absorb the water before it starts to run off to the next yard. If much of your yard is paved, that water isn’t being absorbed at all; it’s all running off. Covering your hard-surface patio—all of it—forces the water to drip into the soil where at least some of it has a chance of soaking into the ground.
  10. Divert the water that hits your concrete pool deck so it flows away from your house and away from your neighbor’s yard. Install a drainage system that uses heavy-duty plastic pipes to carry water away from the pool—and in the direction you point it.
  11. Add whole-house surge protection. Those overcrowded power strips that you hope will protect your computer and home theater equipment are no match for monsoon season. A better strategy is to protect all of your equipment with a single whole-house device, which is more reliable and could be cheaper than protecting each component piece by piece. Surge protection protects your home from electrical surges that enter through your electric and telephone lines.
  12. Install lighting rods. Arizona claims more lightning strikes than any state except Florida, and they’re concentrated mostly during monsoon season. Lighting protection will help save your home and electronic equipment from bolts of lightning. Whole-house lightning protection involves six or seven lighting rods (also called air terminals) on your roof—if you live in an average-size home. A good installer will insist that you also buy whole-house surge protection.
  13. Make room in your garage or carport for your cars. Organize a family garage clean-up day before the storms start so you can keep your cars safe from hail, rain and wind.

    During
  14. If your ceiling is filling with water from a leaky roof and you can’t get a roofer to check it until the next day, be brave: Give it a poke! The most effective way to stop the disaster that will ensue if that water gets heavy enough to break your ceiling apart is to poke a hole in it with a pencil or a Phillips-head screwdriver. Poking a small hole at the point where the ceiling is sagging from the weight of the water will allow the water to slowly drip out into a bucket rather than to burst out, which could force the whole ceiling and all of the water at once into the room below.
  15. In case of roof damage when no roofer is available for several days (or more), you might have to wait for a break in the rain and patch a hole so the leak won’t recur if it rains again before the roofer shows up. Keep some 15-pound black felt and thin nails handy in case shingles blow off the roof, and keep a stash of silicone caulking to fill holes on a foam roof. Caution: Make the fewest emergency roof repairs necessary to keep your home’s interior dry. Too many patches can mask the problem, causing the roofers more time—and costing you more money—to find the source of the leak when they arrive.

    After
  16. Clean off your foam roof. After the storms are finished, climb up there (carefully!) or hire a roofer to remove tree branches, bird’s nests, leaves and debris so they don’t compost on the foam and cause it to decompose.
  17. While you’re up there, do a post-storm inspection for damages that could cause your roof to leak. Again, check penetrations and look for holes and cracks.
  18. Paint your home’s exterior. You won’t have to do this every year, but do it at least every five years after monsoon season. When exterior wood gets wet, it can become weak and crack. Cracks invite water to penetrate the surface, inviting mold and rot. Regular painting helps prevent damage.
  19. Clean up your yard, or arrange for someone to do it if you are away for the summer..Windy rainstorms will blow branches and trash into trees and onto patios, drop dead birds and small animals onto your porches and topple lawn furniture. If you leave your lawn in disarray, it will send a clear signal to crooks that nobody’s home.
  20. Weed your lawn and gardens. Wet monsoon weather turns our drought-parched lawns into breeding grounds for weeds. Pull them, spray them with herbicide, till the ground where they grow so they won’t grow back, and mulch. A tip: Wait for a wet day to pull weeds. If the soil is wet, it will be easier to yank the root out of the ground. Then, spray your yard with a “pre-emergence” herbicide to kill pre-germinating seeds that are waiting to sprout.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. Rosie Romero is an Arizona contractor who has been in the Arizona home building and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 8-11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, KQNA-AM (1130) in Prescott and KAZM-AM (780) in Sedona, and KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.

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Rosie and Romey Romero, Every Arizona Homeowners Best Friend
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