Jim Valentine: Water problems in the desert
September 24, 2018
This isn't an article about water rights, rather we are discussing water issues in residential real estate. Despite the fact that we live in high desert country, many problems encountered in real estate stem from water. Water is a necessary convenience in and around a home in this day and age for restrooms, cleaning, landscaping and survival. Moving water to and through a home is done by pressurizing the water lines and running them where they are needed/wanted.
Unfortunately, not all joints in a waterline stay water-tight, resulting in leaks. Usually under the sinks or showers, but sometimes in the crawlspace. Sometimes they are installation problems, sometimes defective materials, sometimes just the result of motion of the pipe or surface it is attached to. Once in a while water finds its way under a house in a variety of ways. All can be problematic as they can lead to dry rot and mold.
Water under the house can happen from overwatering with sprinklers close to the house. It can also be due to a negative grade on the dirt around the foundation draining water to the foundation instead of away. We recently showed a house that had major water under it requiring mitigation. The agent told us that all homes in the neighborhood had water under them if we were familiar with it. He was from out of the area. We told him that we were familiar with the area and the water problems are across Highway 395 in another subdivision. Then he confessed that it was due to the home being at the end of the cul de sac, lower than the road and having a negative grade all around the home. They installed a French drain and encapsulated the crawl space.
We had another oddity recently where water saturated the carpet and sheetrock in the master bedroom of a home. The source of the water couldn't be found as there was no apparent water source around the soaked area. With two professional inspectors, we looked all around. We finally found a drip line missing an emitter cap shooting water toward the master bedroom window. Fortunately, it was discovered before any growth occurred and was professionally mitigated.
Water leaks under sinks, around toilets, and under showers are common. Usually, they are recent occurrences and can be easily fixed before there is property deterioration. Hose spigots can also be a source of water intrusion as can leaks from compromised roof components. Most homeowners are unaware of them until the home inspector discovers them. We have been witness to situations over many years that were very serious but not known to the property owner, including sewer pipes being disconnected under the house and water drainage compromising the foundation of the home.
Water damage isn't always apparent. We were in escrow many years ago with a home that was relatively new and built by one of the Carson Valley's finest builders. Inspections were a novelty then, but the buyer wanted one. The owner had flood irrigated the lawn resulting in extensive dry rot, a $17,000 mitigation back then.
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Our advice: Water is an important component of a modern home, but it can be a problem. Be aware of water issues on your property. It is very important to have your home inspected by a professional inspector. They are the ones that crawl the property, open the doors, climb into the attic and find the issues. Don't rely on the smell test, or other sensory tests that you may conduct, hire a professional. Water damage can be very destructive and expensive to fix if it isn't caught early in the process.
Most damage can be easily remedied, but water-caused damage can be expensive if the problem goes unnoticed for too long. Even if you aren't selling, check under your sinks and in the crawlspace once in a while to make sure you are water-tight. Precaution is good maintenance.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs … Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.carsonvalleyland.com.