Home Inspection Tip – Get Your Mind on the Gutter

Weeds in your garden are a problem because they’re where you don’t want them. Likewise, in your home, water around your foundation and in your basement is a problem because that water is where you don’t want it to be, and it’s a far worse problem than weeds.
If you could find a major cause of water getting into your foundation, you’d want to solve the problem. That would mean you could head off more serious problems. Your house would be more livable for you and for the person who you want to sell it to. Plus, you’d get a better report from your home inspector when it comes time to sell.
Thankfully, there is something you can do, and it’s not difficult. Get control of the gutters and downspouts.
Gutter downspouts are a major cause of water virtually pouring into your home’s basement. That’s because the water goes right alongside your foundation and into your basement. All downspouts should pour that water at least five feet away from your home’s foundation. If that’s not happening, you need to get downspout extensions.
Granted, the downspout isn’t the only source of water coming into your foundation and basement, but it’s one of the worst problems. Simply getting that pouring water out away from your foundation will help tremendously. Try to take care of this problem yourself before you call a waterproofing contractor. Installing downspout extensions could really make the difference for you.
Here’s something else to think about. If your downspout runs into an underground discharge pipe, but you’re still getting water where it shouldn’t be around your downspout, you might have a damaged underground discharge pipe. It could be letting out water right along the foundation, just where you don’t want it.
There’s an easy way to check to see if the underground pipe is part of the problem. Disconnect the downspout from the pipe and add a five foot extension to your downspout to get running water out farther from the house and above ground. Naturally, if the water stops running into your basement, you’ve solved the problem.
If your underground discharge pipe proves to be part of the problem, dig it up and repair it, or leave things as they are with the extension to the downspout in place.
Now let’s take this another step back for a minute. How clean are your gutters and downspouts to begin with? We all hate to do it, but cleaning those gutters is part of life’s little chores when you own a home. If you want water to go where it should and keep it from going where it shouldn’t be, make sure the gutters and downspouts are working as they were meant to.
When cleaning your gutters, you can use a trowel or garden spade to scoop out the junk that has collected there. Then you want to be sure the downspouts are cleared out.
Before you rinse the gutters, put a hose into the downspout and have someone turn it on so you can check the downspout’s flow. If it’s clogged, pack rags around the hose inside the downspout opening to seal in the hose. Turn on the hose full blast. Hopefully that knocks out the clog. If not, you’ll need to clear it out with a plumbing snake, then recheck the flow with the hose.
Next, flush out the gutter and downspout with the hose. Run the hose at the farthest section of the gutter from the downspout. Do this with each of your gutters and downspouts.
In summary, you could eliminate a major source of water into your home’s basement by having a clean gutter system and downspout extensions that release water at least five feet away from your home’s foundation.