Friday, June 22, 2007

Water Under Our House ... Now What?

The inspector found water under our house but we live in the desert … how can that be?

Water is an amazing thing and proliferates in many ways in the desert. It is important when you sell that your home be inspected for water leaks, standing water, and potential or existing water damage. As innocuous as it seems, water can become a nuisance and possibly terminate your sale – even in the desert. Inspections protect both Buyers and Sellers.

Water in a house can only come from a few sources- leaks in the water system, surface water flow, or underground water. Leaks in the water system are usually quite evident. They can be hard to track down if concealed, but the leak can ultimately be found, and once identified, the problem can be corrected.

Surface water, too, is usually quite evident. A stream of water flowing towards a dwelling is not that hard to notice. This isn’t always a torrential flood situation, but can be a neighbor watering too much, a broken pipe on another property, etc. In such cases the water flow itself is evident if witnessed, but if not seen, the path the water followed is usually apparent. Unless a catastrophic event, this is also usually easy to mitigate.

Underground water can be a bit trickier to identify. Is the source a spring or is it migrating water? Water will flow to the lowest point ergo water migrating to a crawl space from over-watered lawns is not uncommon. This can usually be identified and remedied easily. It is a bit more difficult to identify water migrating down to your property from up the street because of a clay strata that prevents the water from percolating. In that case the water just appears in a pool under your house with no apparent source. Frustration is then spelled w-a-t-e-r. Call in the experts – there is an answer to the problem.

Our Advice: Check your crawl space periodically to make sure that you don’t have an unknown water problem. Be sure to do this after a big rain, or during the summer months when everybody is watering their lawns. Make sure you don’t "excavate” while gardening around your foundation as you could create a negative grade that would allow water to flow under the footing. If water does pool under your home be sure to move it out with a sump pump that takes the water a good distance away from your foundation. Occasional water isn’t a bad thing if you get it out in a timely manner. If you allow it to linger, or flow steadily, you will ultimately have substantial damage to your structure that will be costly to repair.

Accept the paradox of water problems in the desert, and protect yourself and your investment. The term “liquid assets” does not apply to real estate unless you are prepared to price it appropriately.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

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