Preventing Water Damage with Gutters – Part 1: Protect Your Foundation

Water overflowing from gutters causing water damage to a home

This is the first part of a LeafGuard series entitled “Preventing Water Damage with Gutters”. Check back periodically for the parts that will follow.

Leonardo Da Vinci said that water is the driving force of all nature. But water can be the driving force of all nightmares around your house if your gutter system isn’t up to grade. Any homeowner who has ever taken on water in their basement can attest to the importance of driving away the H20, but it actually runs deeper than that: water around the ground of your house can pose a serious threat to your foundation.

Foundation Could be in Trouble

You might not think that soil around your house is vulnerable to too much water. Since when is water bad for soil? For house foundations and the surrounding soil, however, a healthy amount of water flow can quickly become excessive, and it’s up to the gutter system to control that balance. When the areas around your foundation become saturated, the soil is likely to expand, eventually putting pressure on the foundation of your house and pushing it inward. Too much water can also erode soil away, therefore changing the composition of the areas around your foundation and disrupting the sturdiness that it has established within the ground. This could lead to shifts in the foundation. In both cases, it’s caused by water, and in both cases, it will be detrimental to your home.

Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times points out that “A Roof Over Your Head Isn’t Enough”, and that water build-up around your house “can do tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage”. As he exemplifies, the average homeowner might have a less-than-informed, if not altogether frustrating, relationship with his or her gutter system. Ignorance towards all the uses of gutters can prove costly.

Seasonal Issues

The threat that water poses to your foundation is a year-round concern, but there are also seasonal issues to think about around the ground of your house. Without proper water flow, standing water around your house makes for mosquito congregation centers, and that same water, once the colder weather arrives, can freeze and put stress on your patios, walkways, decks, etc..

Gutters to the Rescue

The solution to all these ground-level nightmares is prevention via a sound gutter system. You need gutters that will:

1. Corral all water without any leaks, breaks, or clogs
2. Drive water far away from the house

If the water is still flowing too heavily around your house, consider diverting it to a rain barrel, which will help you manage the water and, as an added benefit, can cut down on your house’s total water use if you re-purpose that water for your plants.

What Every Homeowner Should Do

Whether you have good gutters, bad gutters, or no gutters, the bottom line is this: for all the reasons above, water cannot stay around your house. The easy decision is to forget about it and assume your house is prepared for when steady rain and snow hit. That doesn’t make it the right decision. The right decision is to do a thorough inspection of your house, contact a professional, and find out just how protected your ground level is from water damage.