23 Dec Soggy in Seattle – Water Intrusions in Older Houses
In this post you will find: Discussion of home moisture problems in older houses in the Greater Seattle area and simple steps to identify potential water issues yourself.
Is it your first rainy season in a house you just bought?
Does your house have a basement? Is this a finished basement? Maybe it has a basement you hope to convert into a living quarter.
With prices skyrocketing for real estate in the Greater Seattle area and very low inventory in the sellers’ market, potential buyers have no time for in-depth investigations of not so obvious problems with a property. Even if they win a bidding war and have some contingency for doing a home inspection, buyers may ignore warning signs of some serious issues. Why? This may be a subject more suited for a psychologist than a contractor specializing in water intrusions. To illustrate what I mean, take my dear friend who asked me recently to look at the house he was buying, worried about some moisture and mold issues. My advice: stay away from it. Yet he bought it anyway. He liked the location and hopes to fix the issues later. Sure, most of the issues can be fixed: with the right amount of cash and expertise.
Having given thousands of inspections every year, we at Wet Basement Services meet these desperate buyers, usually in the early fall at the first signs of heavy clouds dropping their first load of showers. They say “we need your help, we have water in our basement”, and “this was not disclosed to us by the seller”. Really? What a surprise! We are in the 21st century! Dishonesty is not rare anymore. It’s prevailing. But again, this is a subject for socio analysis or moral theology, which is not my area of expertise.
So what went wrong besides the issues I’ve briefly mentioned above? It is simple. Seattle is the rain capital of the USA, but somehow buyers often forget about it when they are buying their house. Did they count on their real estate agent to remind them that the soil profile surrounding a basement is full of water? A real estate agent is not a soil scientist. Right? Maybe she just said “the home inspector is going to catch issues, if there are any”. Are home inspectors wizards with crystal balls? How many CEUs ( Continued Education Units ) in hydrology are home inspectors required to complete for their certifications? The answer is – none! I’ve been in this business since I graduated in 1983 with a Masters in Forestry Engineering and then in post-graduate in Environmental Protection. I’ve also been a Certified Arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture since 1992. The most important thing though, I’ve successfully completed thousands of projects myself. That is why Wet Basement Services is the only company on the market giving life time, transferable warranty for our interior projects. But going back to our topic.
Well, the buyers own the house now, and they are happy they found us. They can sleep well now, after we fixed the issue caused when the Pacific “peaceful” Ocean sent it’s gloomy envoy to remind us that we coexist with the Rain Forest. Refer to Seattle Times article heavy rains rising river and Seattle news stormy weather photos for more information.
Now that you are aware of potential water issues, what if you yourself are looking for a house? It’s simple. Do necessary due diligence before you are sucked up in the emotional whirlpool of the house buying process.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself, your agent, or even a home inspector if you already “won” your house but have an inspection contingency.
First, trust your senses. Literally. Became a canine. Scents are the most remarkable and remembered experiences. If you have ever been to a moldy house you are always going to remember how it stinks. Especially sniff contained areas like storage areas, closets, and crawl spaces. You’ll be surprised how acute a sense of smell you possess. If you are a rare individual with anosmia (a lack of smell) ask your partner or friend to become a doggie.
The second: check for signs of growing mold. Yes, the seller may try to hide it, but it is not that easy to paint over a molded baseboard or moist sheetrock. Look for flaking and uneven paint or a different texture. Then don’t be shy to ask questions if something looks suspicious.
You may ask why I am talking first about mold instead of water. It is because ultimately this is about your health. Where there is moisture mold is going to come and thrive there, producing mycotoxins. They destroy you and your family members’ immune systems in the most harmful way. There are no worse toxins than mycotoxins known to humanity. I am going to make sure I have an article on this subject.
Going back to signs of mold. If the house you are looking to buy has growing mold already, I have a warning for you besides the health concerns. Be sure to know that getting rid of mold may be very, very expensive, if possible at all. We are talking about tens of thousands of dollars and a real invasion of your life. Unless you plan on gutting it out completely, ask yourself if a house is worth it. This is a reality check! Don’t be deceived by the artistry of a house staging and oratory skills of the selling-buying interest parties. Your well-being is something you can carry from one property to another, unless it’s destroyed by a rash decision of hopeful thinking. You have to live in a healthy home to protect your well being. I know something about it. My wife is a victim of mold, an unhealthy environment that mutilated her immune system causing myriads of problems including cancer. She is a cancer survivor still battling many issues, and she is my hero.
I’m hoping to enlighten my readers on water intrusion and mold issues happening in the Western part of the Pacific Northwest. These issues have become very prevalent in our region since the influx of newcomers from different climates and subsequent building boom. Why these issues are so pronounced now will become a subject of a different article in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any urgent questions, get in touch with us via email or phone call. We will definitely get back to you at the first opportunity. Thank you for your attention and for taking an interest in the possibility of water issues in your home!
Also, be sure to check back in here. I will be posting once a week about some issues and links you may find helpful, and if my writing resonates with you please share your story with me in the comments section below.