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Don’t Leave Your Gutters Alone This Fall

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It’s that time of year again. Fall is many people’s favorite season – or mine, at least – but it’s not the best for your gutters and downspouts. It is crucial that you keep your gutters clean this season. This is important to prevent three potential disasters:

  1. Water Leakage Through Your Foundation Wall
  2. Foundation Failure Due to Hydrostatic Pressure
  3. Conductor Line Eruption

A gutter and downspout exist as a team to direct rainwater away from your foundation. If the gutters are clogged, the water will overflow and run down into the “over-dig” soil next to your home. This is the soil that was dug out to create the hole for your home. The soil was refilled after the building was completed. This soil is aerated down to the base of your home and not nearly as dense as the rest of the soil around it. Therefore, it more easily allows water to infiltrate it and brings this liquid closer to your home’s walls.

If you don’t have a basement waterproofing system in place, then this water can leak through your walls, especially if they are made of brick or concrete blocks due to joints, and flood the basement. If a waterproofing system is in place then the water will be collected by the interior drains and carried away through the sump pump.

That sounds great for those of you who do have BasementGutter, right? If it happens, then you’re covered. Well, that’s not exactly true either. Each gallon of water weighs 8.4 pounds, and if water is overflowing from the gutter, many gallons will collect in the over-dig soil. All of this weight will put hydrostatic pressure on your foundation walls. This is the pressure exerted by a fluid due to gravity, and it can lead to foundation failure. As the water pushes on the walls, it can cause cracks and bowing. Not only does this pose a safety problem, but it also will cause your home to lose value and cost you money on repairs.

Finally, even if all of this doesn’t happen to your foundation this fall, you are still at risk of rupturing the water conductor line if you don’t unclog the gutters. The conductor is the line which typically carries water from the downspout and sump pump away from your home and into the street. If the gutter is full of leaves, some will wash into the downspout and be carried into the conductor line. Now, this line is clogged with leaves and both the downspout and sump pump water have nowhere to go. So, what happens? Water begins to spurt out onto your lawn AND back into the over-dig soil next to your foundation walls. You know what happens then.

Avoid this disastrous cycle this fall, and keep those gutters clean!

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