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Solving Common Rain Gutter Problems

clock October 10, 2010 15:43 by author blogadmin
Clean your gutters from leaves and debris to avoid standing water. Clogged gutters lead to flooding and major foundation repairs.

 

 

Your gutters are designed to perform one simple, yet very important task—collect and move water away from your foundation. While this sounds like a very simple function it is also critical in protecting your home from flooding and structural damage. Even with only a ½” rain, on a 2,000 square foot roof, produces 1,000 gallons of water for your gutter system to move. Now that’s a lot of water!

For your gutter system to perform its duty properly, they have to be kept in good shape, clean and free of clogs, holes, and sagging. A well maintained gutter system will provide you with years of service and protect your home from costly basement flooding and foundation repairs. Fortunately, solving common rain gutter problems is fairly simple, requiring only a ladder, a hammer, a three foot level and a little free time.

Missing Gutters

If your house has no gutters, consider having a system installed immediately. The amount of damage that uncontrolled rain water can cause is staggering. It is not a coincidence that Texas has many homes without gutters and they also have the highest incidence of foundation problems. Missing gutters can also have devastating effects on windows and siding. The costs of adding gutters varies greatly due to options, materials and linear footage.

Leaking, Dripping Gutters

Leaking gutter joints need to be sealed by caulking the joint from the inside with a gutter sealant, found at most hardware stores. This is a fairly simple repair that only costs about $5. Other than large areas of damage, gutter sealant will seal holes and joint issues. If you have a large hole or a severely disconnected seam, using gutter sealant with a patching material usually will suffice. Many Kansas City hardware stores carry a gutter patching kit with simple instructions.

Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

Clogging is the most common gutter problem. Whether from leaves, roof debris or toys, gutters can get clogged and cause water to flow over their edges and down along side of your foundation. Left untended, clogged gutters and downspouts will contribute to possible basement flooding. Recently I had to remove eight golf balls from my downspout that was overflowing (evidently golf balls sound neat running down gutters and downspouts). The amount of debris that can buildup within your gutters can really add up to a significant amount of weight that can cause sagging and standing water. You can clean your gutters yourself if you’re comfortable on a ladder, don’t mind getting wet and dirty, and don’t have an extremely tall house. After cleaning out the heavy deposits, flush the gutters with a garden hose to make sure they’re flowing properly. If you prefer, you can hire someone to do the job for you for, between $50 and $250. Cleaning, or having your gutters cleaned at least once a year, or twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby is standard. If you have many trees hanging over your home or have a chronic clogging problem, some type of gutter cover may be necessary. Most area hardware stores have mesh style covers that can be effective. There are also many different proprietary gutter covers on the market, such as the Gutter Helmet, Gutter Guard, LeafX, Gutter Topper and LeafGuard. Each has its own unique design yet they all are designed to keep debris, including golf balls, out of your gutter system.

Poor Gutter Slope

The first rule when dealing with water is – water runs downhill. Gutters need to be sloped toward the downspouts for the water to flow well. The standard is ¼” downward slope per 10’ of horizontal run. This is where your level comes into play. A visual inspection inside your gutter will also let you know if you have a gutter slope or pitch problem. Grab your ladder after a rain or cleaning and look in the gutter; if there’s standing water, you have a problem.

Downspouts Draining Next to the Foundation

Downspouts that drain next to your foundation is the number one cause of basement flooding and foundation repairs. Rain water needs to be directly at least 10’ beyond the foundation. This can be accomplished above grade or below grade. While splash blocks help they just are not long enough to keep water away from your foundation. Due to mowing and aestitics, running drain pipe below grade to a exit grate or popup emitter is the best solution. Professional waterproofing and foundation contractors can do this project at very reasonable rates. While this project seems fairly simple, many variables must be considered and this is best left to professionals due to its importance.

Fortunately, most common gutter problems are easy to fix. A general maintenance plan is simple and well worth the effort to prevent much larger problems down the road. Take the time to walk around your home next weekend and look for visual clues to your overall water drainage system. Are the gutter and downspouts running clear? Are the downspouts discharging at least 10’ from the foundation? Is the soil around your foundation sloped away from the foundation? Has there been obvious spillover from your guttering system? Take some time to solve these problems or call a local Kansas City professional to look at them for you.



Controlling Your Downspouts Discharge

clock May 18, 2010 11:18 by author blogadmin
Control your downspout discharge by installing a catch basin. This will collect storm water runoff and direct it away from your foundation.

To keep your basement dry, the first thing you need to do is control rain water runoff. The most common source of rain water is the water which comes from our roofs. This water can come in very large volumes and create a massive flow of water around your foundation. A two inch Spring rain is equal to almost 2,000 gallons of water from a 30 X 50 residential roof. If this 2,000 gallons of water is not directed away from your foundation, it can cause cracking and flooding inside the home.Directing your downspouts directly into a drain pipe is a fairly common and simple solution to controlling rain water runoff. This is as simple as digging a trench and laying a solid drain pipe inside this trench and directing it at least 10’ away from the foundation. The outlet can be a simple emitter, drain grate or if adequate slope is available, daylighting works. This type of system is very common and with proper pitch and sizing it can be very efficient. The downsides to a direct connection system are clogging or freezing.

Another very effective method of controlling downspout discharge is the use of a catch basin. The catch basin is placed directly below the downspout outlet and serves as a collection point which transfers the water to a solid drain pipe and then to an emitter or grate. The distinct advantage of the catch basin is the grate, which covers the top of the unit. This grating serves as a filter to prevent debris from clogging your underground pipe. Simply wiping off the grate periodically will keep the system working efficiently.

The other benefit of a catch basin is its ability to collect pooling surface water. If your soil is not adequately sloped away from the foundation, the catch basin can collect some of this surface water and drain it away just as it does with the rain water from the roof.

Catch basins come in a variety of sizes and outlet configuration which should be taken into consideration when designing your system. Basin selection will be a function of anticipated water volume, piping size and depth and water source layout. This is best done by a water management expert or landscape architect / engineer. Next is the fun part - grate selection. Catch basin grate selection is very broad to the point that you can pick color, style and material based on the aesthetics and volume required. Plastic, green and black being the most common, is the most economical. Brass, copper or chrome would be a more personal statement that can add to the overall landscape design, but more expensive.

Whichever method you choose, direct connection to a solid drain pipe or the catch basin design, the key is to collect storm water runoff and direct it away from the foundation. Remember, the goal is to protect your home from flooding and foundation damage.

 



Wet Basements & Spring Rains

clock March 10, 2009 13:11 by author blogadmin
Heavy spring rains produce wet basements and crawlspaces. Inspect your foundation for water damages such as cracks and settlement to prevent flooding.

Spring Home Improvement - Part 1

 

With spring right around the corner, we all should start thinking about the potential for wet basements and crawlspaces. With spring come heavy and frequent rains.  These rains can and will create havoc under your home if you are not prepared. Gutters need cleaned, downspouts checked, sump pumps need checked, perimeter grading must be maintained and foundations need to be kept in good shape.

 The best sign that spring is right around the corner is the amount of waterproofing contractors advertising their latest, greatest interior water diverting system. These waterproofing contractors are the first to ignore the causes of water infiltration, only praying on the easy band aid fixes. These band aids include encapsulation, interior drain systems and super duper wonder sump pumps. These quick fixes do not address the problem only the symptom. You have to keep water away from your home and maintain your foundation if you want to have a dry basement or crawlspace.  

Look for the signs and your home will tell you what is happening. These signs include efflorescence, mold, cracks in drywall,  windows and doors that are sticky and water leakage. Once you know you have a problem your next step is to look for the cause. Causes include transpiration, plumbing leaks, poorly maintained gutters, drainage and poor soil conditions. Any of these can cause undue pressure on foundations which results in leaks and cracks. 

Checking your basement for cracks and leaks should be the first step in making sure that you will not end up with a wading pool in your basement. Whether you hire a qualified foundation engineer or a foundation repair expert your foundation needs to be thoroughly inspected for wall cracks and ruptures, bowed foundation walls, settling footings and walls along with other structural defects. These defects must be solved before the rains start to prevent your basement from flooding. Neglecting structural defects assures foundation problems in the future. 

A simple way of detecting whether your foundation is under structural stress is with crack monitoring. Crack monitors are simple devices that measure and record movement of foundations over a period of time. These simple products can help determine if foundation repairs are necessary or not. Not only are they simple to install and read, they also are fairly inexpensive. Just have one installed over a crack and record the movement over time to really see what the basement walls are doing.



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