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September 04, 2010


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Another common one, at least in the more northern latitudes, is inadequate insulation.

Another one here in the Northeast US is a improperly decommissioned oil tank. Lots of people have converted from oil heat to gas heat, which means that the oil tank needs to either be removed or decommissioned properly. In many older homes that were converted 30+ years ago, the tank was just left in the ground and abandoned. Unfortunately, if there was any oil left in the tank, it could potentially leak into the soil, which could leave the new homeowner with a huge liability - fines, cleanup costs, lawsuits from neighbors for contaminating their soil, etc.

Grading and drainage is an easy fix. This is how we handled it in our first home:

Dig a two-foot wide trench, 3-4 feet deep around the perimeter of home on the lowest points of elevation (or all around if you like). Lay a bed of gravel, 2" deep. Install perforated pipe (we used 8" across). This is a black pipe with ribs that has small holds in it to allow rain water to enter and travel along the pip to wherever you direct it. Therefore, the pipe should be angled towards the lower grade, but only slight angles are needed for it to work.

Pour gravel to fill the remainder of the trench. This also makes a nice look around the house and collects the drops from the eaves. In most cases, the area will not grow weeds because water does not stick around long enough. If you do get weeds, a mixture of vinegar and water or bleach and water can be sprayed on the rocks. It will drain down the pipe, not accumulating in your soil, but still getting rid of weeds. Easy fix, excellent results. Not even a musty smell in our basement!

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