What I really should say is, El Niño might be destroying your home from water damage, but that doesn’t have as much punch, now does it?
El Niño is definitely here and the rain storms keep coming. Over the decades during each El Niño cycle, I find that people can forget that water keeps flowing downhill after it hits the ground. That also means for many people that water flows right under their house. It’s true! I’ve seen lakes under people’s houses! Including my own!
It’s often home inspectors or termite inspectors who discover the lake. They open the crawl space access to do an inspection and are faced with a foot or more of standing water under the house. Most homeowners are completely surprised by this. Of course, who looks under their house anyway?
This is definitely a bad situation! Wood rot fungus loves that damp! That fungus can turn wooden structural support members to powder if they get the chance. If not dealt with, that water under the house can lead to serious foundation sinking, cracking and walls separating from floors etc., They might have to be fixed by jacking the foundation back up and pumping truckloads of concrete under them to re-stabilize them.
So, how do we fix the lake? When houses are built, the lots are supposed to be graded in such a way that water coming off the roof, usually through gutter downspouts, flows away from the structure. Sometimes this is not done very well. Or later installation and changes made to the landscaping, patios, walks, walls, etc., can change the slope so that the water actually flows back toward the house. Thousands of gallons of water can come off the roof and flow downhill against the house and into the crawl space. One downspout doing this can completely fill a crawl space.
The good news here is that the solution is pretty simple. Connect hoses or pipes to the downspouts to carry the water away from the structure to a point where it will definitely flow away.
When we purchased our first house many years ago, El Niño was in full swing. There had been some settling at one corner of the house and there was a lake under it. There were 3 offending downspouts dumping water directly down the sides of the foundation. I connected these to ABS flexible pipes to carry the water far away from the foundation and buried the pipe so it would be out of sight. From that time on it was perfectly dry under the house every winter, until we sold the house years later. I did peak under there to make sure.
Oh yes, the preceding also applies to those houses on slabs. In my opinion, they are even more susceptible. Water can get under those slabs too. Ever hear about those wicked “slab cracks”?
So take a look. Where’s that El Niño water going to at your house?