Is Your Home Ready for El Niño?

We’ve already seen the beginning signs of the El Niño that the National Weather Service predicts will begin its three-month peak sometime in October but may last through spring 2016. According to The Weather Channel reports, the forecast is for a strong but unpredictable El Niño, as polar ice reduction over the years since the 1997-1998 event will change the storm models.

So what does this mean for you?

If you’re a homeowner, you need to be prepared for above-average and sustained rain falls. In Southern California, we’re used to storms that blow in and blow out after dropping a few inches of rain, maybe a foot over a week or so, leaving clear skies for much of the rest of the year. So are our homes.

Where should you start?

The roof. Have a close look yourself, or consult with an expert. If you see any cracks or gaps, get them sealed well before the peak rains begin. Also, apply a sealant, but make sure that you give it plenty of time to dry before the rains resume. If your roof has tiles or shingles, look for ones that might be broken, cracked, or missing, and have them replaced immediately. Also, check to see whether the metal flashing on your shingle roof is rusted or cracked. The sooner you get this done before the peak of El Niño, the better—you want any treatments to set.

Next up, the gutters. This can be an easy fix. Drains and gutters transport rainwater safely to the main drain without affecting the foundation of your house. Make sure there is no clogging due to accumulated leaves, twigs, stones or grit. These often clog the drainpipes and cause a back flow of water, which leads to major leakage problems in your ceiling. Even worse, there might be a leakage somewhere in between, causing the water to flood the foundation of your house. A cement sealant might come in handy here. Ideally, you should have your gutters checked and cleaned twice a year—certainly, El Niño adds an incentive to getting it done.

Check for cracks in the ceiling and walls. If there are any along the edges of the ceiling, you may be particularly susceptible to seepage in the walls, which could eventually lead to flooding and the growth of hazardous mold and mildew inside the structure. Fill these with plaster or wall putty (which will also require repainting the walls or ceiling). Check doors and windows for any gaps that can let in rainwater. These gaps can be filled with a variety of sealing products, including brush seals. If you have a basement, go through this space thoroughly, and consider purchasing a few sand bags, especially if you have a ground-level window.

Watch your wires. Any exposed electrical wiring needs to be checked, or there might be a risk of a short circuit. Also check for any loose wires, and make sure fixtures and outlets are covered properly. Occasionally check junction boxes during the storm to make sure they aren’t collecting water.

Other flooding considerations:

If you live in an area prone to flooding during large storms, don’t let dried leaves, fallen twigs, and any wilted blooms accumulate on your property, including your driveway, as they can block runoff drains.

Check the trees near your home, and trim any branches that might give way during heavy rains or strong winds. Falling branches are one of the surprise causes of damage during big storms such as El Niño.

If you have a pool, consider reducing the water level during El Niño’s peak, as your pool could collect an excess of rainwater and flood your yard, even your home. And also make sure you secure any yard furniture that could either be damaged or be blown into a fence or a glass window or door.

Whether it’s Godzilla El Niño or El Niño Bruce Lee, you’ll want to be completely prepared for any conditions brought about this season. At Murfey Construction, we’re happy to go over El Niño preparation with you, as well as any other needs for your home, so please visit us at