Rain, which has been falling steadily since mid-December with few breaks, can cause major damage to your home. If you haven't prepared...

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Rain, which has been falling steadily since mid-December with few breaks, can cause major damage to your home.

If you haven’t prepared, you could find yourself stepping in unexpected puddles — inside.

Keeping water out requires some extra work, but there are some steps you can take to prevent leaks in your home, according to State Farm Insurance and Lowe’s home stores.

Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent leaks on your roof, keeping gutters free of leaves and other debris. Proper roof ventilation also might help your roof last by reducing heat and moisture buildup in the attic, and preventing ice dams from building up underneath the roof. (Don’t walk on the roof unless it’s necessary, though, because it weakens the shingles.)

Keeping trees trimmed also helps prevent branches from rubbing against the roof and ensures that trees don’t provide too much shade.

Insulation also should be kept in good shape and vents kept clear.

Roof warning signs include warped, cracked or missing shingles; damage near the chimney or vents; and pooled water, according to State Farm.

Also, check caulking around windows and doors to make sure it’s intact.

Consider installing water alarms, or “passive leak detection systems,” which can alert you to a leak. There are a variety of water sensors that help detect leaks. Some also will turn off water flow if the leak starts from a pipe.

For more information, see www.statefarm.com/consumer/preventwater.htm.

Cleaning up

If your home has a leak, here are some tips from Lowe’s to dry out your personal items.

• Remove as much water as possible with mopping and blotting.

• Take photos, art and small fixtures to a dry spot.

• Take damp books from shelves, and spread them out to dry.

• Wipe wooden furniture dry.

• Open drawers, cabinets and doors to help everything dry faster.

• Put aluminum foil or blocks between furniture legs and carpet to speed drying.

• Use fans to circulate air.

• Keep indoor temperatures at about 70 degrees, and use dehumidifiers if possible.

For more information on cleaning up after a flood, see www.fema.gov/hazards/floods/coping.shtm.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com