When most people consider foundation issues, they automatically think about things like poor construction, changes in soil conditions, natural disasters, and termite infestations. However, one of the most common culprits actually involves poor drainage. Specifically, many homes suffer foundation issues as a result of problems with their home’s gutter system. If you’re unaware of the relationship between your home’s gutter system and foundation, then it’s time to educate yourself on how the former can impact the latter.
Before we get into the relationship between gutters and home foundation issues, it’s important that you understand the basics of how your home’s gutter system works. Gutters are basically long channels that sit along the lower edge of your roof. They’re designed to capture all the water that hits your roof when it rains or melts after a snow, ensuring that it travels safely to the ground, these channels are angled slightly to direct water to the downspouts, which allow the water to fall to the ground in a controlled manner. The end of the downspout is curved to ensure the water is deposited away from the home’s foundation.
The last sentence in this explanation is perhaps the most important. Without the proper gutter system and downspout setup, water would simply fall right next to the home and pool up near the foundation. While your home certainly has a gutter system, what you need to be thinking about is the quality of your system. Is it properly installed and maintained? The presence of gutters alone isn’t enough to save your home from foundation problems.
Once water pools near the foundation, two major issues can arise along with a host of smaller problems, pooling water means the soil underneath the water is completely saturated, and putting an enormous amount of pressure on the side of your home. Over time, this pressure can cause the basement and lower walls to push inward or crack. The second possible problem is that when the water eventually does drain away, it could erode the soil. This may lead to foundation settlement and could cause uneven floors, chimney deterioration, or cracks in walls and ceilings. It’s not just your foundation, either. As water penetrates the soil around the home and seeps into your home’s foundation, mold becomes a possibility. Mold that starts in the basement or foundation can eventually spread into drywall, carpet, flooring, and other materials found in your home. This can lead to health problems and expensive repairs.
Foundation damage can also create the irreversible issue of a voided foundation warranty, Most foundation warranties contain language that directly mentions keeping the gutter system clean to properly divert water away from your home. If foundation problems are found to have resulted from improper gutter maintenance, then you may end up having to pay out of pocket for all repairs.
It’s obviously in your best interest to maintain your home’s gutter system to avoid foundation-related problems down the road. Here are some tips and pointers:
Clean Them Religiously
Even more important than choosing a gutter system is cleaning the system you have religiously. Inspect the gutters at least twice a year – ideally, more frequently – and remove any clogs you see.
Everyone has their own method for cleaning out gutters, but the most effective strategy is to put on some gloves, grab a ladder, and remove them by hand. You can then run a garden hose into the gutter system to flush out anything that’s stuck in the downspouts.
Pay Attention to Downspouts
Finally, keep an eye on your downspouts. When water leaves the downspouts, where is it going? You can install underground drainpipes that deposit the water away from the home, or you may use “splash blocks” to divert away from the foundation. Another option is to collect rainwater in a water recycling system that can be used to water plants on your property.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s crucial that you prevent water from pooling up around your home’s foundation and penetrating the soil. Over time, this pooling can lead to massive problems.