July 2019 has now been declared the hottest July on record – people all over the U.S. have been affected by incredibly hot temperatures and extreme weather patterns. But, how does this same weather affect your home?
While we all know how winter weather can affect our homes – from burst pipes to HVAC systems that break down from trying to heat a home – summer weather can also bring its own set of issues.
Extreme climates of any kind can potentially cause damage to the interior and exterior of a house. Here are four specific parts of your home that hot weather can damage, and what you can do to help prevent it.
The foundation may be in danger in the hotter months due to the drying nature of heat. Foundations are designed to use the surrounding soil as a continuous support system. As the ground heats up, the soil will shrink and the moisture will evaporate, causing the soil to separate from the footing, potentially doing damage to the foundation.
Keeping the moisture consistent around the foundation of your house is key, a sprinkler system can help with this.
Another way to avoid the soil near your foundation drying up is to make sure no large trees are close to the house, trees draw up moisture through the earth and can create drought-like conditions in the area surrounding their roots in times of decreased moisture.
A roof is also highly susceptible to heat damage. Attics are often not built with great airflow, and tend to be the hottest part of the house. Humidity can build up in an attic and the excess of heat and moisture under the roof can cause the shingles to deteriorate at an accelerated rate. Properly maintained ducts and ventilation can help mitigate this problem.
High temperatures can also cause your roof to expand and warp, causing shingles to crack and making them more likely to leak.
The heat can also dry out the caulk around the flashing and weaken your roof structurally. This can be prevented by installing vapor barriers to decrease moisture, by coating and sealing the roof to protect against harmful UV rays, choosing a lighter color for the roof itself, and scheduling regular maintenance checks to make sure everything is in shape.
Like a roof, hardwood floors can also warp from the humidity that comes in the hotter months. Heat and humidity cause wood to expand, and as wood absorbs moisture, it causes the edges of the floorboards to push upward, creating an uneven surface.
Floors can also “buckle,” meaning they will pull up and away from the subfloor entirely.
The moisture that accumulates in wooden floors may dry up, eventually allowing them to return to their original shape, but the prolonged humidity of summer can also cause floors to crack and result in some permanent damage.
To prevent this, whole-home dehumidifiers can be installed to help regulate the humidity levels throughout the entire house. Ideally, humidity in homes with hardwood floors should always remain between 35% and 55%, so running your vents during extra humid days can be helpful in preserving the integrity of your floor.
Finally, using minimal water when cleaning your floors can be beneficial. The humidity of the summer can slow the evaporation process, leaving water on your floor for longer than usual, giving it more time to absorb into the floorboards.
Another part of your home that is at risk in the summer is your plumbing. If pipes are not sealed correctly, they are much more likely to leak, or even burst, due to high water usage and pressure from swimming pools, garden hoses, automatic sprinklers and even day-to-day operations.
This can be prevented by having a plumber check the caulking and sealing around your pipes as part of a regular maintenance program.
The excessive drying that can occur during a dry summer can cause shifts in and around your home’s foundation. That drying can cause water lines to disconnect or rupture, and water mains can crack or leak.
This is preventable by making sure that the soil bordering your home is maintained and watered in hotter months. Tree roots in search of water can also damage pipes, if the ground is dried up and you have moisture leaving a damaged pipe. This is avoidable by keeping larger trees a distance away from the house.
Extreme weather both hot and cold, wet and dry, can be an enemy of your home’s structural safety. The best way to help thwart these threats is to stay ahead of them by having a professional check for vulnerabilities and making sure that your house gets the air flow and moisture it needs to provide your family with a happy, healthy home for many years to come