Despite your gutters being positioned far away from your basement, they play a pivotal role in waterproofing your below ground space. From installation to maintenance, and gutter downspout redirection failure to give your home’s gutters appropriate attention can lead to water intrusion issues in your basement. In this article we’ll dive into the importance of gutters in basement waterproofing and offer some tips and tricks to keep them working as they were intended to.
What is Basement Waterproofing:
It’s important to first define basement waterproofing as it may be difficult to see how gutters, which are installed on your roof, can affect your basement. Basement waterproofing is a system of components such as sump pumps, dry wells, and French drains used to manage the moisture level of your basement. That can mean:
- Reducing humidity levels
- Managing groundwater
- Stopping basement leaks
- Replacing your concrete slab
- Installing exterior drainage solutions
- And much more!
The range of effective solutions for basement waterproofing varies widely and that’s because each component of the system works together to increase the effectiveness of the system. We can never expect to completely stop water from entering your property or even coming in contact with your basement. Therefore, we must manage where the water goes.
One system used for the management of water on your property is gutters. Gutters are installed around the perimeter of your roof and are designed to collect water from rain or melting snow. The water is then channeled to gutter downspouts, which are vertical sections of pipe, attached to your gutters. These downspouts guide the water to strategic corners of your home where they should be directed away from your foundation.
Why Gutters are Used:
- Protecting the Foundation: Gutters collect water that would otherwise cascade off your roof and pool around your foundation. It directs this water to downspouts which then lead away from your home in an appropriate drainage location.
- Preventing Erosion: Without gutters, the water coming off your roof can erode the soil around your house. This can encourage water to pool and create a negative grade in your landscaping.
- Reducing Siding and Exterior Damage: Water cascading down the side of a house can damage the siding, windows, and doors. It can lead to paint damage, rot, and mold growth on the exterior walls.
How Bad Gutters or No Gutters Cause Basement Waterproofing Issues:
As we’ve briefly discussed, having no gutters or having gutters that are improperly installed and maintained can lead to issues with your basement waterproofing.
Sometimes homeowners make an aesthetic decision to not install gutters on their home. When you have no gutters on your home you are letting the water fall where it may, and this can lead to erosion and pooling water near your foundation.
The shape of your roof determines where the water will go and if multiple sections of your roof slope towards each other this can cause a huge influx of water in one area increasing the likelihood of erosion. Gutters will help you disburse the water to various places around your house and direct it away from the foundation.
Gutters that are poorly installed or improperly maintained can become overwhelmed in a heavy rainstorm causing water to pour over the side of the gutters. This can be caused by improper installation techniques such as failing to appropriately pitch the gutters or by failing to maintain your gutters and developing a blockage of debris.
Equally as important as your gutters are your downspouts. Your downspouts are the highways that take water that your gutters collect and direct it away from your home. Downspouts should be extended away from the foundation to an area with appropriate drainage to discourage erosion, negative grade issues, water pooling in window wells, or water seeping into your foundation walls. Excessive moisture near your foundation can lead to cracks that will need to be repaired.
Prevent Basement Issues with Proper Gutter Maintenance:
Preventing basement water issues often starts with proper gutter maintenance, a crucial yet frequently overlooked aspect of home care. Effective gutter maintenance involves several key practices:
- Regular Cleaning: You should clean your gutters at least twice a year, typically in the spring and fall. By removing leave and other debris you can prevent blockages that cause issues with water flow in your gutters.
- Routine Inspection: While conducting gutter maintenance you should also have your gutters inspected for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Over time these issues can worsen causing your gutters to be unable to perform how they should.
- Gutter Guards: Installing gutter guards can significantly reduce the amount of debris that enters the gutters, thereby minimizing maintenance needs and improving water flow.
- Downspout Placement: Downspouts should be directed to designated drainage areas on your land, downhill, and several feet away from your foundation.
Regularly maintaining your gutters can prevent many basement waterproofing issues. Protecting your foundation from moisture damage will also contribute to the overall health and longevity of the home’s structure.
Gutters play a crucial role in basement waterproofing, channeling water away from the foundation to prevent moisture damage. Proper installation, regular cleaning, and strategic downspout placement are key. Neglecting gutter maintenance can lead to serious basement issues, emphasizing their importance in a comprehensive waterproofing strategy for your home.