Basement water problems are a headache for a homeowner. While there are many potential sources of water penetration into the basement, a common issue is water runoff from the roof not being properly dealt with. Simply having properly functioning gutters and downspouts can solve many basement water problems.
Did you know that during a typical moderate rainstorm, rain falls at a rate of 0.30 inches per hour (www.weathershack.com)? And, for every 1000 square feet of roof footprint that catches 1 inch of rain, about 620 gallons of water must be dealt with (www.surfrider.org). That means that a house with a footprint of 2000 square feet will dump almost 200 gallons of water per hour next to the foundation of the house in a typical rain shower if the house either does not have gutters or has improperly functioning gutters. While properly constructed foundations have means of dealing with some water, they are not designed to handle these quantities–especially during a very rainy season or during large storms with much greater rainfall rates.
This is where gutters come to save the day. Gutters simply catch the water as it falls off the roof and redirect it to downspouts which dump the water away from the foundation of the house. Gutters are great if they are installed correctly. However, if they are not functioning properly, the large volume of water running off the roof can actually be concentrated in trouble locations around the foundation of the house. This can actually create a worse situation than if the house had no gutters. Here are a few problems with gutter installation/maintenance that can prevent the runoff rainwater from the roof from being properly escorted away from the house:
Leaves In The Gutter
When leaves are not cleaned out of the gutter by water flow or by human hands, they can prevent water from flowing properly and cause overflowing during heavy rains. This water lands next to the foundation of the house rather than being directed away from the house as intended.
When downspouts are full of debris, rainwater coming off the roof is prevented from exiting the gutter system. This can cause water to pour out of downspout seems or overflow in the gutters above. Both of these outcomes cause large amounts of water to be concentrated around the edge of the house and increases the chance for water penetration into the basement.
Missing Downspout Extensions
Many houses have gutters without downspout extensions. Downspout extensions are typically black corrugated tubing either above ground or buried under ground with an opening downhill for the water to exit.These extensions take the water from the gutter downspout and carry it further from the house (typically 3-5 feet but sometimes longer depending upon the landscape). Houses without these extensions simply have the water dump out next to the foundation of the house wherever the downspout is located. This is often a recipe for moisture in the basement at that location.
Improperly Leveled Gutters
Gutters may look level, but if installed correctly, they should be sloped slightly to cause the rainwater to run toward the downspouts. Improperly leveled gutters can cause pooling of water at the ends of the gutters which can lead to overflowing of water and dumping next to the foundation of the house. In addition, this can leave standing water for days after a storm which creates a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. This is a very common problem in many gutter installations.
To show you how much of a difference properly functioning gutters can make, here is a story from one of my customers:
“When we bought our house, the basement was a disaster. There was a horrible smell in the basement due to years of moisture and water issues. We suspect this contributed to why we were able to get a good deal on the house. However, the reason for our basement water problems was evident when we inspected the house. The gutters were not getting the water away from the house. Right away we dug up the old, collapsed downspout extenders which were causing the water to back up in the downspouts and gutters and put new ones in. We gutted the basement and let it dry out. The persistent basement moisture problem was solved. However during heavy storms we noticed several of the parts of the gutter system would overflow and cause a moisture problem in one area of our basement. It turned out it was caused by two issues: leaves clogging the downspouts and portions of the gutters were sloped away from the downspouts. We called Dave and had him replace the gutters. He made sure to get them properly sloped and encouraged us to increase the size of the gutters. Now our gutters are real champs. They are easy to maintain and never overflow. It’s been several years and not one wet spot in the basement. Problem solved.”
This is just one of many stories where getting properly working gutters has saved a house. If you’re experiencing moisture problems in your basement and you think gutters might be contributing to the problem, give us a call, and let us see how we can help get a properly working gutter system installed on your house. It’s time to say goodbye to your basement water problems.