At the time of this message, Florida is being tested by the awesome power of nature. In this unprecedented hurricane season, when fellow Americans are hurting, we at Fix St Louis add to your thoughts and prayers for minimal casualties and a rapid recovery.
Watching the news, it’s easy to get the feeling that NO place in America gets away without having its own particular brand of disaster. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, drought, mudslides, wildfires. Seems like the only things Americans are spared from are deadly locusts and smiting of the first born.
Other than the occasional tornado in highly localized areas, St Louis’ regularly-occurring natural disasters are all about rain, sometimes in Biblical proportions. And we all know the unmistakable signs when one is upon us. It’s when getting to the other side of 141 at I-44 requires a catamaran, and when no one’s laughing anymore that we refer to a sleepy drainage ditch as the “River Des Peres.”
Which leaves our local homeowners with two choices – either build an ark and prepare for a reboot of mankind, or make some modest improvements to keep all that water outside where it belongs, such as:
Your home may or may not have one, but a sump pump is an electrically-operated water pump mounted in a lid-covered hole in your basement floor. It collects groundwater that gets underneath the perimeter of your house, and pumps it up and out, either back into your yard or into a sewer pipe.
First thing, you should make sure your sump pump works, that it turns on when water is collecting and turns off when it’s not. Fix St Louis can check it out for you and replace it if necessary. Also, we’re big fans of sump pumps that come with battery backups. These prevent flooding in the not-so-unlikely event the storm knocks-out the power your sump pump needs in order to operate. We also like sump pumps that come with alarms that tell you if your system isn’t working or keeping up.
If your house doesn’t have a sump pump, should you get one? Hard to say. Putting in a new sump pump system is a big and messy job involving jackhammering a channel around the perimeter of your basement, filling it with perforated drain pipes and gravel, then covering it up again with concrete. If your house has never had a problem, it’s on high ground, and not particularly on the path of water run-off from surrounding properties, it may not be worth the expense. Fix St Louis can help you figure that out.
If you see water coming into your basement from cracks in your concrete foundation or from under your walls, or the floor or carpet below is wet, you should do something about it. Fix St Louis can refer you to a qualified foundation specialist, then return to repair any damage the foundation folks had to make to fix your problem.
Gutters & Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are only doing their job if all the water that hits your roof works its way through the gutters into downspouts, and the downspouts release that water directly into drain pipes, or onto ground sloped away from your house. If you see water overflowing the gutters or leaking from places in the gutter, downspouts that are disconnected from drain pipes beneath them, or pools of water near your house, you might want to call Fix St Louis.
If gaps are starting to form between your outside concrete porches or landings and the ground beneath them, these can create a passageway for rain and groundwater to sneak into your house. Fix St Louis can refer you to specialists called “mudjackers” who can fill-in those spaces with dirt. This will not only prevent the entry of water, but can also keep your porch from cracking or collapsing from lack of support.
Make sure that the soil around your house is touching the concrete foundation, and not the siding above it. Also, the ground should be sloping AWAY from your house, directing the water away. If not, you might want to add soil to create a slope.
As we hope for the best in Florida, it’s also a time to count our blessings that massive hurricanes are not something we need to deal with. But, while we may never have to deal with hurricane-class levels of rainfall, wouldn’t it be nice to know your house could?
Fix St Louis