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Blog category: Right at Home

Preparing for El Niño: Safeguard Your Home Now

4 min read

Winter 2023 is predicted to bring an El Niño weather event worldwide. The climate phenomenon, characterized by the warming of sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, disrupts weather patterns and climate conditions across the globe.

El Niño often leads to irregular rainfall patterns and increased storm activity, but the effects of the changes can be vastly different depending on the region. For example, the southern hemisphere tends to experience drought conditions, resulting in hotter, dryer weather. Regions like Northern Europe may see colder, dryer winters.

Closer to home, a California El Niño winter typically means more precipitation. For many Golden State residents, this anticipated rain after years of drought provides much-needed relief. The heavy rains fill the reservoirs and aquifers, replenish the soil, reduce wildfire risk, and improve ecosystems and air quality. But there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”

Protect Your Home from Heavy Rainfall

As we’ve seen in recent winters, heavy or prolonged rainfall can also lead to flooding, landslides or mudslides, soil erosion, and infrastructure damage. Increased precipitation can also affect our health and safety if it breaches our home’s structure. The most common types of rain-related damage include roof leaks, foundation seepages, and moisture-related issues like mold and mildew.

Roof leaks

  • Conduct regular inspections: Look for missing or broken shingles, cracks, or loose flashing and seal leaks as soon as you spot them.
  • Roof maintenance: Consider hiring a professional to check and repair your roof when necessary.
  • Clear gutters and downspouts: Remove debris that could cause blockages to the flow of water. Install gutter guards to minimize clogs.

Foundation seepage

  • Ensure proper grading: The ground around your home should be graded away from the foundation to direct rainwater away.
  • Install a sump pump: If water accumulates in the basement or crawl space, a pump will remove it efficiently and quickly.
  • Waterproof foundation walls: Apply sealants to stop water from seeping through.

Mold and mildew

  • Seal windows and doors: Check and seal any gaps or cracks around windows and doors to prevent rainwater from entering.
  • Maintain proper ventilation: Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to reduce indoor moisture.
  • Take care of leaks promptly: Early treatment can avoid the growth of mold and mildew, which can get into the walls and onto carpets and furniture. In addition to ruining your furnishings, untreated mold can be dangerous to your health.

Safeguard Your Home from Heat and Drought

The other end of the climate spectrum leaves many regions dealing with record-breaking high temperatures that cause drought and present major health concerns for humans, other creatures, and the environment. Extreme drought and heat can also inflict significant damage to homes and other buildings.

Foundation cracks

  • Water the soil around the foundation: Soil can shrink during a drought, leading to gaps in the ground. The foundation then settles into the new gaps, which can cause cracks.
  • Retain moisture in soil: Use mulch to prevent soil from drying out and consider planting drought-resistant landscaping.
  • Prevent root interference: Remove any tree roots that can get under the foundation and plant new trees further away.

Roofing issues

  • Keep the roof adequately ventilated: Allowing hot air to escape helps regulate temperatures inside the home, reducing strain on the AC system. Ventilation can also reduce roof damage.
  • Install a green wall or roof: A living roof provides insulation and helps absorb heat.

Wildfire risk

  • Create defensible space: Clear flammable plants and bushes from around your home and make sure outdoor equipment is made of non-combustible materials.
  • Protect your windows: Add fireproof shutters or install tempered safety glass.
  • Install external sprinklers: Make sure they have a dedicated water source, in case no other water is available due to a wildfire near your property.
  • Reinforce your roof: Use fire-resistant material on your roof to diminish the risk of flying embers igniting.

When it comes to protecting your home from the effects of El Niño, there’s a lot to consider. But the above strategies can help a great deal. Keep in mind that weather-related insurance claims can be denied if it turns out that the homeowner has not kept up with regular maintenance.

This is especially important when it comes to performing regular roof inspections since roofs tend to bear the brunt of heavy storms. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risks and protect your home from the adverse effects of El Niño. Be prepared and proactive, and your home will weather the storms with ease.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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