By Mitch Kuffa
Let’s talk about cracks & holes.
If you were to walk around the outside of your house and carefully look for small openings, you would be surprised at what you find. And if you realized how many undesirable things can enter those holes (water, air, dirt, bugs, etc.), you would run instead of walking to fill all the voids.
Fortunately, we happen to live in an age of sophisticated caulks and sealants. They come in tubes, cans, and sprays. They make specialized products for brick, wood, concrete, ceramic, etc.. They also come in a multitude of colors (white, gray, black, brown, beige) and you can even get colors specially blended. They are applied with caulking guns, putty knives, brushes, and trowels. But they all have one purpose. THEY KEEP UNDESIRABLE THINGS FROM ENTERING.
Here are some of the areas that you may want to investigate and seal with the appropriate product if necessary.
PERIMETERS OF WINDOWS:
This may sound obvious to you, but many times there are sealants already applied, but they have dried out and cracked. Pay special attention to windows that are set in brick.
PERIMETERS OF DOORS:
This is the same as windows and it is especially important where the bottom threshold meets the wood framing or stone sill (for some reason these areas are often ignored).
CRACKS OR OPENINGS IN BRICK/MASONRY:
Even if the crack or hole doesn’t lead anywhere, the idea is to keep water from entering and saturating porous masonry. This is especially a concern during the change of seasons. The damp brick freezes and then is negatively impacted. It is sort of like a cavity in your tooth. If left unattended, the condition only gets worse, becomes conspicuous and costs substantially more to repair.
CRACKS OR HOLES IN THE FOUNDATION:
These openings are many times partially underground at the exterior. This allows more potential for water to enter and should be dug up if possible and sealed. Poured concrete foundations can typically be easily sealed from within, but masonry block foundations (due to the “webbing holes” within the block) have to be addressed from the outside.
SIMPLE HOLES/PENETRATIONS INTO THE HOUSE:
These are the ones that are harder to discover. Common areas of concern are electrical service cables near the electric meter, gas lines entering the basement at the gas meter, hose faucets, a/c lines, irrigation system pipes, around dryer vents, around basement windows or crawl space vents, at sump pump discharge lines, etc..
SEALING CRACKS IN CONCRETE SLABS:
This is typically a concern if the cracks becomes large, allow the concrete to heave and create pedestrian traffic hazards.
CONCRETE SLABS WHERE THEY MEET THE HOUSE:
Here, we are typically talking about porch slabs, patios, driveways, and walks. This is especially important if the concrete has settled a little, is pitching back to the house and/or has created a wider separation where the building and concrete meet. Your desire is to prevent rainwater or melting snow from running back to the house and into that opening right next to the foundation. The presence of the slab prevents access to the area beneath making it more difficult to repair. The rule of thumb is to seal these areas before the problem starts.
SEAL WHERE SIDING MEETS BRICK:
Vertical joints are important, but most problems occur at horizontal joints. It is very common for rainwater to run down the siding and when it comes to the brick it goes behind the masonry instead of over the edge and onto the ground. When water gets behind brick it is in the wall cavity, can create hidden damage and cause many problems (deterioration, mold, etc.).
On the inside of your house don’t forget that it is also important to address these areas with caulk or sealant:
Seal all toilets to the floor.
Seal all countertops and backsplashes where they meet the wall.
Caulk all bathtubs or shower pans to the finish floor.
Seal around the perimeter of bathing recesses.
Seal where tub faucets, controls, and water spigots meet the wall surface.
When you’re ready to address any of the above items of concern, make sure you get the appropriate product for your job. If you have any doubts, the merchants will be glad to help you pick the right product for the job.
To learn more about INSPECTIONS by Mitch Kuffa, click here.
Mitchell J. Kuffa Jr. has been in the construction industry since 1967. In that time, he has worked as a construction superintendent, general superintendent, and construction manager for several large developers in the state of Michigan.
He has been a licensed Michigan residential builder since 1977, was an incorporated general contractor for 11 years and has built and/or run the construction of approx. 3,500 residential houses, apartments, commercial structures and/or light industrial buildings.
In 1981 he started the first private home inspection agency in Michigan and to date has personally performed approx. 16,000 inspections for a fee.
Since 1981, Mr. Kuffa inspects properties and acts as a construction consultant for the Michigan Department of Mental Health (group homes), UAW Legal Services, numerous lenders, several non-profit organizations and for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Kuffa is a federal housing fee inspector and FHA 203K mortgage loan consultant, works with several attorneys’s as an “expert witness”, has been appointed by the Michigan circuit court system to act as a Receiver in several cases concerning construction litigation and teaches a series of construction classes (for misc. school districts, community colleges, Michigan State Housing Authority, etc.).
Mr. Kuffa has been a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors, in good standing, since 1983.
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