It’s bittersweet to wish for El Nino in California. Do we need rain? Absolutely. Do we need thousands of dollars in damage repairs? Do we want a molded crawl space? Absolutely not.
A little preparation will take you a long way...
I recently finished cleaning out an under-the house storage area for a client. We followed my normal protocol of pulling everything out from under the house and sorting it into three categories: toss, donate and keep. [Just a warning, this always takes longer than you think, so plan accordingly.]
When we moved the “keep" items back into the house, we triaged yet again. Only items that could be easily replaced went back under the house. (In other words, the memorabilia items and all the yard furniture cushions found a new home elsewhere.) Under the house, we didn’t just plop them the keep items on the ground - which is dirt that will absorb water and create moisture. We took care to put all items back into tightly-closing plastic bins (with labels of course!) Also, hazardous materials like house paints, were lifted up to a low but functional shelving unit, so that in case of a flood, (which does happen in this area,) the paints wouldn’t be washed away and pollute the streams and groundwater.
Now that the ‘goods’ are taken care of - what else should you do to prepare your crawl space for the rainy winter?
Prevention is Key.
Clean roofs, gutters and downspouts. Rake out fallen leaves from roofs and clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
Fix leaks. Maybe you have survived the last three relatively dry winters with a leaky roof, but don’t trace it now.
Check Your Site Drainage. Make sure that the soil slopes AWAY from your home or other structures, and that water drains easily from patios and decks.
Turn off Irrigation. Should we say more?
Stock up on Sandbags. Sandbags help prevent water from running into low areas like crawl spaces.
Check your Insurance Plan. Make sure you know what is covered - and what is not. Flood insurance is not always included in standard homeowner policies. Consider bumping up your coverage at least 30-days in advice of expected storms. FEMA also offers coverage for flooding. See resources below.
Make a Disaster Preparedness Kit for your Family. Packing essentials into a water-proof bin so you can everything you need in the event of a flood or power outage is something you know. You just need to go do it. Or, check what you did for Y2k and update it.
Collect your Vital Records for a Quick Exit. If you had to leave your house suddenly, would you have your most important affairs in order? You may have been meaning to do this for some time. The threat of an El Nino winter may be all you need. The Porta-Vault is an easy-to-grab binder where you can store copies of the most critical information you will need to keep. (And yes, cloud storage is a good option for most things, too.)