Rain Gutters: Foundation Help or Hurt?

Used correctly, rain gutters can help product your home’s foundation. However, poorly maintained or incorrectly directed, the gutter system can leave your home on unsettled ground.

Close up of water drop
Water is a foundation’s biggest enemy.

Your home’s gutter system is designed to capture water as it runs off your roof, either in the form of rain or melting snow.

The water flows into gutters, which are open at the top, and is then directed into downspouts.

Using gravity, the water flows downward through the downspout pipe and, ideally, away from your home.

Downspouts and gutters are ultimately designed to move water away from a building’s foundation.

The soil around your home is an ever-changing entity. Certain soil types, like clay, are particularly sensitive to the amount of moisture in the ground.

When there’s a lot of moisture in the ground, the soil swells. During dry periods, the soil shrinks and contracts.

Brown downspout running adjacent to brown building foundation
A downspout that discharges too closely to a building’s foundation can cause problems.

When excessive amounts of water are dumped at your home’s foundation, the water weight exerts pressure on your basement walls, causing them to shift, bow or crack.

Water follows the path of least resistance. When it accumulates near the foundation, the easiest path may be directly into your basement, causing flooding, dampness and, potentially, mold.

At the roof level, when gutters are clogged with leaves, branches or other debris, water is prevented from following the natural path toward downspouts. Instead, gutters overflow dumping water directly against the foundation.

 At the ground level, the further water flows away from a building, the safer the foundation.

Building codes recommend that water be diverted at least 10 feet away from a home’s foundation.

To do so, utilize downspout extensions, splash blocks or downspout drains.

What you can do

Blue sky with upper stories of tan house at right.
Cleaning gutters and ensuring your downspouts are directed away from foundations can help protect your home.

When used properly, rain gutters are the foundation’s best friend. However, the influx of water a poorly maintained gutter system can dump on a foundation can put your home in jeopardy.

Simple maintenance of your home’s gutter and downspout system can prevent foundation damage. Make sure gutters are clear and downspouts properly connected and directing water away from the home.

Contact the experts at My Foundation Repairs for all your foundation repair and waterproofing needs.

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