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6 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Home for El Nino

flooded residential home

The 2015-2016 El Nino season is predicted to be one for the record books, and the time for Southern California residents to prepare is NOW.

If you’ve lived in the area for a while, you’ve likely experienced El Nino events in the past. El Nino is a weather system created by the interaction of the ocean and the atmosphere. While El Nino weather patterns vary across the country, in El Nino years Southern California typically sees warmer than normal temperatures and increased rainfall due to the jet stream shifting south.

These patterns are predicted for the 2015-2016 season, but the issue is with the potential severity we may see. Meteorologists say that this year’s El Nino is similar to the 1997-1998 and 1982-1983 seasons. These were the harshest El Nino years on record, which means Southern California could see one of its worst El Nino events, including storms, heavy rainfall, above average rainfall totals, and the potential for flooding and mudslides.

If you are a homeowner in Southern California, you can follow these 6 tips to prepare for this year’s El Nino event.

1. Clean the Gutters

The purpose of gutters is to direct water away from the home. This is important because any water that moves toward the home can cause damage – roof damage, water leaking into the home, flooding, the weakening of your home’s foundation, rotting wood, and mold or mildew. These issues can be costly to fix, but you can lower your risk by cleaning and maintaining your gutters.

man cleaning home gutters

To clean your gutters, use a secure ladder to climb up to the gutter and get a view inside. Next remove any debris you find, including leaves and sticks. Finish off by hosing the gutters down to remove the smallest debris, and observing how they work. Are there any holes or leaks? Do they appear to be doing their job properly? If you notice any issues, fix them right away.

2. Learn How to Turn the Water Valve Off

If a pipe suddenly bursts in your house and causes water to stream in uncontrollably, you need to be able to turn off the water from the source. This will be an emergency situation where time is of the essence. You can improve your response time by finding and inspecting your water valve now, as well as practicing turning it off.

First you must locate the water shut off valve. It is often found outside near the water meter, but you can ask a neighbor or call the water company if you need help finding it. Once you’ve found it, give it a good check to make sure it is in good condition and working well – if there are any issues, you may need to replace the valve. If everything is looking good, practice turning off the water, taking notice of how many turns it takes to shut the water off completely.

3. Check for Leaks in Supply Lines

By supply lines, we mean both the gas and water lines. El Nino may bring problems of its own, so now is the time to check to make sure these lines are in good working condition – a little peace of mind to know your home is ready for the season.

It is best to call a professional who can conduct a thorough leak check. This should be something you do periodically anyway, so right now (before any El Nino disasters) is the perfect time to do it. You can also do some visual checks of your own, inspecting the condition of hoses, looking for any leaking or pooling water, taking notice of gas smells, and so on.

4. Landscaping and Drainage

Outside your home, you can also check your landscaping to fix any problems that could arise if we see an excessive amount of rain. The right landscaping can improve your drainage, and the wrong landscaping can cause drainage problems and flooding. Which do you have?

flooded residential yard

One of the most important things to check for is how water behaves near your house. The water should flow away from the home, so if it flows toward your home you have a slope problem which can be corrected by re-grading. You also want to check for pooling water under your downspout and any depressions or pooling on the lawn. There are various causes of these problems and your landscaping company can help you with the right solutions.

5. Check for Rodents in the Attic

During severe rain and storms, rodents will try to seek shelter in a dry place. If they find your home, they could chew holes in your water lines, which would cause leaks and even flooding. To prepare yourself you can check for any existing rodents or places where they may get in.

rat in an attic

Evidence of rodents includes the sound of chewing or scratching, the smell of urine (which smells like ammonia), droppings, chewed up insulation or boxes and finding nesting debris. You can also check your attic and crawlspace for entry points. Rodents only need an opening the size of a dime to gain entry, so look for holes or cracks in the foundation, ceiling, roof, walls, and windows.

6. Check Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage

One of the biggest threats of El Nino is water damage, so it’s important to check your homeowners insurance now to see what type of water damage you are covered for. Most policies are valid for water damage that occurs in the house, such as from burst pipes or other plumbing issues. However, you typically need special flood insurance to be covered by acts of nature, such as heavy rains, flooding rivers or mudslides. If you don’t have this coverage but worry that you may need it, now is the time to call your insurance company to purchase the extra flood insurance you need.

There is no telling what this year’s El Nino season will bring to Southern California, so it is best to prepare for the worst by following the tips we’ve provided.

Keep in mind that even the most prepared household is still vulnerable if El Nino strikes in full force. If your home or commercial business does experience water damage caused by El Nino, make sure to call the experts at New Life Restoration to assist you with 24/7 professional and courteous water damage cleanup.

New Life Painting is a residential and commercial painting contractor serving California’s Central Coast including Arroyo Grande, Avila Beach, Buellton, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and more.

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