WHY DOES SALT WATER MAKE HURRICANE DAMAGE SO MUCH WORSE?

WHY DOES SALT WATER MAKE HURRICANE DAMAGE SO MUCH WORSE?

Unlike a rainstorm, a hurricane–or superstorm, which Sandy was demoted to–scoops up salt from oceans and estuaries the way a kid scoops up sand at a beach. The “brackish” water (salty but not extremely salty) and the saltwater (about 35 parts per million salt) get mixed up with freshwater and carried inland by the storm surge. When that water is pushed to shore, it can be more damaging than the salt-free version, especially if comes into contact with electronic equipment (as was the case with Sandy). Why? Because salt can react badly with, well, just about everything, says Steven Apfelbaum, founder of the environmental consulting firm Applied Ecological Services, Inc. and author of Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land. Salt has chemical properties that make it react with, and alter the composition of, iron, steel, zinc, concrete, wire insulation, and more–nearly all the building blocks of the manmade environment. It not only corrodes wires that can transmit electricity, it also conducts a charge itself, which means that it can both wear away our safety insulations, causing outages, and increase the chance of an accidental shock. When coated with salt, metal can transfer a jolt, too. Hurricane Water Damage In the short term, that means big safety problems. We’ve already seen power outages and extensive clean-up efforts–which were triggered, at least in part, by salt. In the long term–maybe not even that long term; “weeks or months or years,” Apfelbaum says–it can mean serious, corrosive damage to infrastructure. “It basically breaks, starts decomposing, the molecular bonds,” Apfelbaum says. “Therefore streets and buildings and sidewalks and roads can be weakened.” Salt...
Detecting water damage in your old house

Detecting water damage in your old house

There is no doubt that many old houses are plagued by problems. One of the biggest issues, whether the house is modern or ancient, is the threat of water damage. It can wreck havoc on a home, and unfortunately it doesn’t take long — one serious storm could be enough to result in damage that requires many hours of labor and thousands of dollars to repair. Sometimes the damage is quite evident, and can be easily spotted by the untrained eye. But it can also be a very subtle problem that creeps up on you, creating significant destruction before you even realize it’s there. Spotting water damage I really wish I had known how to detect the more subtle signs of water damage before I moved into my first old home. It would have saved me a great deal of hassle, not to mention kept more cash in my wallet. Here is a list of signs that you may have damage, from the clear to the more subtle, sneaky ones: Water stains. That telltale stain on the ceiling or wall can be an obvious sign. If it suddenly pops up, it’s time to get a professional into your house to check it out and find out where the water came from. If you are looking into purchasing an old house and you see water stains, be wary. Ask for proof that the source of the damage has been repaired. Buckling floors and walls. This is another very clear sign, and it is often the mark of an extensive problem. The drywall or wood absorbs water, which makes it swell....