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Question DetailsAsked on 1/14/2015

Can gutters cause foundation damage

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2 Answers


The incorrect installation of a guttering system can create excess water around the basement walls. The hole dug for a foundation is very simular to a swimming pool and can function much the same holding water that is not properly draining away to sit along side the foundation and exert hydralic pressure on the foundation. In Ne & Ia clay soil the most often sign is a horizontal crack just below soil level,, I call these snap cracks. For your gutters to function they must be kept clean, be sloped towards an adequate downspout and have kicks on the downspouts that carry the water far enough away from the home so it does not migrate back. Proper landscaping is a must and even if you do it all right Mother Nature can still cause a problem from your neighbors yards. Water can also penetrate thru the old waterproofing on your foundation as well. Interior water control systems, drain tile, etc can help control water damage on the inside ? finished basement. But gutters are the first line of defense and in most cases the most important,

Jim Casper Gutter & Gutter Cover Contractor

ps See my blogs for ideas on gutters and cover


Answered 5 years ago by jccasper


As JC said, properly installed, gutters REDUCE the risk of foundation damage. However, also as he said, you are dropping maybe 30-60 feet of roof eave runoff into one or two small spots at the downspout discharge, so failing to handle that water properly can cause MORE trouble than no gutters at all because of the wataer concentration.

Keys, in my opinion:

1) JC may object to this one, but I feel gutters should tilt slightly down on the outside edge, so if there is backup or plugging the water runs off the front edge rather than down the front of the fascia, rotting the fascia and maybe rafter tails. Does slightly reduce the carrying capacity but worth preventing the rot.

2) even though it looks a bit funny maximize the slope of the gutter, preferably by putting the center high (up close under the dripedge or shingle overlap) and sloping down to downspouts, preferably at both ends on long runs. On a normal 2x6 fascia you should be able to get about 3-4 inches of drop, which on a typical roof is about a 1 percent slope - about the minimum needed to get decent drainage with some leaves in there. you can get more on 2x8 or larger fascia.

3) at the downspout, provide a couple inch air gap at the bottom before it goes into any type of closed drain pipe or chute, so if the drain away from the house freezes up the water does not back up in the downspout. A good solution is to take a piece of plastic gutter (avoid metal as it crumbles easier if kicked, and is sharp) and bury it in a slot in the lawn so it is about at ground level, as a drain trench. And make sure the ground right around there is semi-impermeable (silty,clayey, or topsoil) and compacted (heavy foot stomping good enough) and slopes away from the house, preferably at a 5% or greater slope, for a minimum 3 feet from house and preferably (especially in sandy or gravelly soils) 5 feet from the house, and to an area that will not drain back ktoward the house.

4) Do NOT use the roll-up type discharge chutes - for them to work, they have to be fully and tightly fastened to the bottom of the downspout and they back the water up in the downspout a bit, promoting leaf b lockage, and cause downspout backup if they freeze or do not roll out because they are cold or become blocked with leaves. If you insist on using roll-out type discharge chutes, or are going into an underground drain pipe, then if you can't leave an air gap put an open wye connector (wye opening away from house) just above the connection so if the downspout gets blocked, the water can come out the wye and discharge over the ground surface rather than backing up to the roof.

4) make sure gutters are washed or at least inspected for buildup of debris at least annually. I do roof and gutter hosing off late in the fall after the trees are basically bare to wash out the leaves that have fallen and leave it clean for winter, and occasionally wash out gutters with hot water in mid-winter if we have had a warm winter (freezing and thawing or rain on snow) to clear built-up icing in the bottom of the gutter before it blocks it and causes overflowing in the spring.

You can find more prior questions with responses on gutters and gutter covers in the Home > Gutters link in Browse Projects, at lower left.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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