February is over and March is ushering in waves of spring. This time of year usually raises some questions about issues that have popped up around your new or recently remodeled house. I usually comment that these issues not only happen around new or newly remodeled houses, but can occur in most any house, regardless of age. Here are a few I have already addressed this season:
1. “I turned my water hose on today and it sprayed water into my crawl space. It didn’t do that before you remodeled my bathroom. What do you think is wrong?”
What usually happens in most cases is a water hose was left hooked up to an outside spigot when freezing occurred. It only has to be hooked up a very short time before the water freezes and a pipe to bursts. Why? The water in the hose has a tendency to siphon back into the spigot itself and hold there. When freezing occurs, the pipe can burst. Although the temperature the day before and after might be warm, but the damage has been done. This can happen early in the winter season, as most people don’t use the outside spigots until the weather begins to warm up. We suggest you NEVER leave a hose hooked up to a spigot in the spring, fall, or winter.
2. “It looks like water is leaking behind our gutters through our outside soffits. There is a water stain that has not been there before.”
This year was an unusually cold and snowy year. What can commonly happen when snow builds up in gutters and starts melting, it will also freeze after temperatures begin to drop. This allows for the gutter to start filling with ice, back-up behind the gutter, and drip off edge of the roof, which allows for the next melting to drip between the gutter and the gutter board. The water will then run back to the edge of the soffit and create a water stain. It usually causes no real damage.
We recommend that all soffits and gutters be cleaned every year. This helps prevent permanent staining and discoloration of the soffit and gutter systems.
(That is why we do not use the term “MAINTENANCE FREE EXTERIORS.” Everything requires some form of maintenance.)
3. “We have been in our house three years and this is the first time we have had any drywall nail pops. This occurred in our master bath tray ceiling. Did we do something to cause this?”
We try to explain drywall imperfections to our customers before we start any project. There are several reasons for nail pops and other imperfections. This probably occurred because we had a cold winter and there may have been moisture in this area that had never been removed as much this year. When there is no humidifier in a house, the heat tends to dry the moisture content more quickly. This will allow wood to move inside the house and in framing members. It is best to wait until spring before trying to touch these spots up, as they may become less or not noticeable at all.
Below are our notes added to our specifications:
NOTE: Drywall imperfections and finish variations are noticeable in the ceilings and walls and may become more noticeable after the paint is applied. This occurs for several reasons, some of which are:
The drywall material consists of two or more materials when applied and finished. The seams and nail spots are a different material than the board, and when the “mud” is applied to the wall board, the finished texture of the materials are different. Thus allowing the paint to amplify or make noticeable these different textures.
When butt seams are taped and mudded, the seam will be built up beyond the wallboard surface, thus amplifying the’ bump’ or hump in the wall.
The drywall is applied to wood, which has a natural tendency to move when temperature and weather conditions change. This can result in movement behind the drywall board, seams, nailed areas, taped areas, and other areas such as headers, corners, point load areas, and corner bead areas.
P. L. Lyons, Inc. strives for high quality finishes, however it is hereby understood that the finished look of the walls and ceilings may vary somewhat due to the above , and will be deemed acceptable with the painting as specified. Again these imperfections can occur because the drywall material consists of two or more materials when applied and finished. The seams and nail spots are a different material than the board, and when the “mud” is applied to the wall board, the finished texture of the materials are different. Thus allowing any paint to amplify or make noticeable these different textures, however it is much more noticeable with gloss, semi gloss, and or darker color paints. If more paint is required than what is specified, there will be an additional charge. If gloss and or semi gloss paints are used, the painting of the areas affected will cost considerably more.
4. “I have been in my house for six years and my driveway and sidewalk got a crack in it this year. Why did that happen?”
Having been in the building business for over 37 years, we guarantee that concrete will crack. It may be in the first seven days, or it may take seven years. The cracking can occur for several reasons, but the most common reason for sidewalk and driveway cracking is movement in the sub surface.
Last fall was unusually wet and that occurred after a serious summer drought. The ground had dried severely, allowing cracks and voids to occur in the soil. Then the rains occurred, allowing the shrunken soil to absorb moisture quickly and expand. Then we had sever freezing this winter, allowing the subsurface to expand even more. This allowed the concrete to heave, causing cracks where they had not occurred before.
There really isn’t much you can do to avoid this. Installing footers and drainage systems under drives and walks would be cost prohibitive. However, it does help the situation when we are in a dry season to water around these areas so the vegetation does not suck the soil completely dry and cause the cracks we see. This will help minimize the contraction and expansion of the soils.
5. A friend called this week about a foundation leak that occurred in his 40-year-old house. He said it had never leaked in the 37 years he has lived there. He asked what might have caused it to start leaking.
This is very much like the item above, where we went through a very dry summer. When the soil dries out around a foundation, especially one that has a large amount of plants and trees in the lawn, the vegetation can quickly deplete the soil of any moisture it usually retains. Then the plant roots go toward any moisture they can find, even if it is moisture against the foundation. The soil then dries up around the foundation, allowing the shrinkage and the cracking of the soil. This allows much more water than usual flowing around the foundation. If there was an unnoticeable crack in the concrete, it will become noticeable now. The drying and shifting of the soil outside the foundation may allow for new cracks to occur. Even plant and tree roots can cause the foundation to crack when growing toward that water and nutrient supply.
We recommend you always water around your foundation frequently when in a dry season. Also water trees and plants, which will help to avoid root systems from growing right up against a foundation and causing heaving of the concrete.