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What to do if your house springs a leak

We hope your Christmas was merry and bright! Today we will share a few more tips about preparing your home for windy weather.

Last week we mentioned the recent tornado that devastated a neighborhood in Port Orchard, which isn’t that far from here. While tornados are very rare in Western Washington, it seems we’re seeing new weather patterns lately.

During the winter storm of 2007, hurricane force gusts and howling winds went on for days, peeling off more than 100 roofs. Part of the aftermath of that storm for most of us was power outages that lasted five days or longer. We all learned something about being prepared – or what life is like when you’re not.

In addition to checking the soundness of your roof, windows, doors and garage doors before a storm, it’s important to clean out gutters and storm drains to help prevent leaks and damage to your house.

For the details of what to look for in your roof, windows, doors and garage doors, check out last week’s column posted on our website at In fact, while you’re there, look around. We have a treasure trove of information on our website about our programs as well as information from our past columns.


The best way to avoid a leaky house is through prevention, making sure your roof is sound, your windows, skylights and doors are correctly sealed and that your gutters and downspouts are clear and positioned correctly.

But the truth is that sometimes despite our best efforts – or best intentions – our house can spring a leak.

Just like wind, water is a very powerful source and one that must be addressed quickly and correctly. If water starts dripping or pouring into your house the amount of damage caused in a short time can be staggering.

We suggest you always have at least a couple tarps or thin plastic painter’s drops on hand. If you get a leak in your roof or your house – and especially if you get several dripping sources– using a tarp as an indoor funnel can hopefully catch and protect your furniture, walls and floor covers.

This is what you can do: Tape that plastic film right to the window below the drip or use thumbtacks or staples to attach it to a leaking ceiling – depending on where the leak is. Then create a belly or funnel to direct all the water into a bucket or pail. You can even gather from multiple leaks from a fairly wide ceiling area – maybe the whole ceiling, then use a coat hanger in an L shape and hook it to the middle of the belly of the plastic so that the water is gathered to one point – above a pail. Water is capillary so each drop wants to stick to the next drop, so use that tendency to guide the water safely to a container.

This tarp isn’t to hold water, it is just to guide and direct that water to the pail instead of all over your walls, floor and furniture. By making this funnel as soon as possible and directing the water, the amount of damage will be greatly lessened. Once the storm is over, you’ll want to tackle the repair or call a contractor to help you fix it.


If you see any leaks in your basement walls, double check your downspouts from your roof to make sure they are conveying the water well away from your foundation.

Sometimes in city settings, the water could be coming from your neighbors’ gutters and downspouts. Perhaps a friendly visit with an offer to help redirect their water to the street or away from your house can make a difference to both of you and your houses.


This next reminder is more about your neighborhood than just your house: Keep an eye out for blocked storm drains on your city streets. City crews work hard to keep them clear but sometimes it takes more hands to maintain a city. Some folks even keep gloves and a rack or shovel in their car this time of year to be prepared to help out in this way.

When the storm drains are plugged, water soon starts pooling making driving and walking difficult and contributing to flooding that can affect homes, cars, services, stores, deliveries, school kids and pedestrians alike.


Remember to celebrate sensibly on Monday as we ring in 2019. Remember that NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor is a resource for you in the New Year. As a nonprofit organization, we can help you with many of your home-improvement, home-buying and household budget questions. Give us a call or e-mail us. We’re your helpful neighbor!

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