Mar 012010
Icicles hanging off my roof.

Water: you don't want this stuff inside your walls in any form.

As anyone in the AEC industry should be able to tell you, water is the enemy of building structures.  It’s really pretty obvious if you think about it: we slope our roofs so that rain and melting snow run off, we finish the roof with weather resistant materials that don’t mind getting wet, in many areas of the country we use gutters to collect the water and divert it away from the foundations, we clad the vertical surfaces of our buildings with a wide variety of materials that keep the rain from getting inside parts of the building where it can cause rust and decay, we slope the ground around our buildings away so that water does not collect and sit against the walls, and anything that goes into the ground, especially basement walls and floors, have to be built with waterproofing materials and details so that water in the ground does not compromise these elements. (We could, of course, talk about all the fun things we can do with water when we talk about sustainable design, but even then, we pay careful attention to the details so that the water remains where we want it and not in the structure). Once we have done everything necessary to keep outdoor water out, we also take steeps to keep indoor water from creating problems.  For example, water supply pipes have shut-off valves in multiple locations so that leaks can be easily stopped and repaired; and drain pipes are carefully sloped and vented to prevent clogs that can lead to floods.

If your home is anything like mine, you may find many of your maintenance tasks relate to this fundamental issue of keeping water in its place.   Continue reading »