The days are getting colder and fall is in the air. Are you ready for winter? While the Bay Area doesn’t get snow, most of our rain falls between November and March, and last year should be a reminder that even California winters can be pretty wet! Are you ready for the rain?
When gutters get clogged with leaves or other debris, they can back up and overflow, which can damage the adjacent roof framing or even the nearby walls. If you have gutters, it’s time to clean them out, and consider the installation of gutter guards to keep the leaf debris from accumulating inside. In addition to cleaning the gutters, there are probably roof flashings that need to be sealed up to keep your home dry. A roofing contractor can both clean your gutters and maintain your roof flashings.
Leaves in gutter Gutter guard
Not every roof has gutters, some have “scuppers” which are basically holes that drain water through what is known as a parapet wall. Scuppers are used with low-slope roofs common in mediterranean style homes popular in the 1920s. When a scupper backs up, it usually means water inside your house – so it’s very important to keep these properly sealed and clear of debris.
Ideally, every scupper would also have a secondary (overflow) scupper to deal with the inevitable backups. Secondary scuppers are typically located 2 inches higher than the primary scupper to allow water to drain off the roof should the primary scupper get clogged. Instead of adding a secondary scupper, the primary scupper can be oversized to be the equivalent of both the primary and secondary. I’m important to note that scuppers are tricky to install, and are often a source of leaks. For piece of mind, it’s best to have a roofing contract clean and inspect all scuppers before the rainy season.
Scupper drain in parapet Secondary (overflow) scupper
Drainage System Maintenance
If your home is protected by a drainage system, this system also needs to be cleaned and tested every fall. A well designed drainage system will have cleanouts strategically placed at the end of the pipe runs. A good way to test the drainage system is by putting a garden hose at the end of the system and checking to make sure the water is properly flowing out of the drainage system termination (typically at the curb). If the system is clogged, a plumbing rooter should be called to clean the system. All other drainage inlets should be cleaned as well.
Removable cleanout cap Drainage inlet (channel drain) Drainage inlet (catch basin)
Many drainage systems rely on sump pumps, and these pumps can seize from age or lack of use in the summer. Sump pumps need to be removed and cleaned (along with the sump pump basins) to ensure they will operate reliably. After reinstallation, make sure to add water to the sump basin to ensure the pumps will operate. The electrical power supply for sump pumps should have GFCI protection to prevent electrical shock. The GFCI outlets can fail over time, so these should be checked and replaced as necessary.
Sump pump inside basin Sump pump GFCI outlet
Smoke alarms were once included in many fall maintenance checklists, but since the introduction of 10-year sealed lithium-ion batteries, there is no longer any need to replace the batteries. That said, it’s still a good idea to clean your smoke alarms and make sure they haven’t reached their end-of-life at 10 years. If you have batteries that need to be replaced, that’s a good sign that the smoke alarms are probably older than 10 years. In addition, if you discover (while cleaning your alarms) that you have smoke alarms with ionization sensors, you should change them out to the more modern, and safer photoelectric type. For more information about the importance of photoelectric smoke alarms, click HERE.
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