It was difficult for us in Southern California to understand the devastation left behind on the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, especially as Orange County residents enjoyed record temperatures in October and November. We actually went out to New Jersey to help, and it was no joke—the Eastern Seaboard got hit hard.
But just think back to two Decembers ago, when downtown Laguna Beach was under four feet of water right before the Christmas holiday. Although not as bad as a hurricane by any means, that storm devastated south Orange County – people were being rescued from their roofs, homes were destroyed, and old-growth trees uprooted. Then there were the windstorms last year at this time that were sweeping the Southland, causing millions in damages to homes, businesses and cities.
Although by and large we enjoy nice weather year-round, Orange County does occasionally see severe weather conditions. So being prepared is key! The weather service is predicting an El Niño this year, so let’s think about it now, not after the rain starts!
Here are some tips for safeguarding your Orange County home from flooding:
1. Clean your gutters! Some Orange County homes do have rain gutters, believe it or not. Poor roof drainage is one of the biggest causes of slab leaks, as a clogged gutter causes problems by concentrating roof runoff water at the home’s corners close to the foundation.
So get out a ladder (and be careful) and make sure that your gutters are tightly secured to your house before starting to clean out leaves and other debris that have been blown into your gutters by the Santa Ana winds. You can also look into gutter guards and other gutter protection products, available at your local home improvement stores.
2. Check your downspouts. As you’re examining your gutters, look for the metal or plastic tube running down from the gutter and jutting out from your house: this is your downspout. If it is working properly, it should be carrying all the roof runoff water three to four feet from your home’s exterior walls.
Check the effectiveness of your downspouts by running a hose through your gutters for 10-15 minutes, making sure that the water runs through them freely without backing up.
How many downspouts is enough? Experts say you should have one downspout for every 600-800 feet of roofing.
Are your downspouts dumping too close to the house? Now’s a good time to fix that, before the problem happens during our next rainstorm. Again, home improvement stores have plenty of extensions for under $10.
3. Watch your grading. Orange County is a hilly place, and you might think that your home is on a raised area. It’s probably not. After the first four feet of the space outside of your home’s exterior walls, the ground should slope about six inches lower than your house. If you’re looking to improve this grading, read this carefully: Use clean fill dirt, NOT top soil, to build up that slope from your home—top soil is organic and will hold water against your home’s foundations!
Your gardener or a local landscaping company can get you that clean fill dirt. A small truckload should only cost you about $100.
4. Move your garden. Is your flower or vegetable garden right up against your Orange County house? This could create problems, as gardens retain water and could facilitate water seeping into your home.
Suggestions: Make sure you leave some room for water to escape from your garden, perhaps using rocks as a border instead of your home’s wall or a retaining wall that links to the house. Even though it seems like it would make sense, don’t have your downspout feeding your garden, as it will oversaturate the soil with water. If you have large, dense bushes or shrubs, thin them out so that sun can get to the soil and dry out once in a while.
If you need help with any of this repair work, give us a call. We’re not just water, fire, and mold remediation and restoration experts, we are also licensed and bonded contractors. We can help with repairs or remodels as well as restoring your home or business after a flood or fire. We hope we’re not too late to stop any damage happening to your Orange County home, but if we are, call us and we’ll be out to help as soon as possible.