Reducing The Potential Of Basement Water Infiltration.

by Pete Busch

If you’ve lived in your house for a period of time you know by now that home maintenance is a big part of ownership. Ask yourself, are you the type of person that waits until there is a problem and then deals with it? Or are you the type of person that deals with small issues before they become major problems? Today I’m writing an article to try to persuade you to become the latter of the two, at least with just one home maintenance job.

Summer is finally here and to most that means warm weather, it also means rain. As you lay in bed this summer listening to the sound of the rain hitting your roof I want you to think about where it ends up? While we do not have to concern ourselves with the entire path rain water travels, we should be concerned about where we don’t want it to go and that is near the foundation of our home.

When your gutters were first installed they also installed downspout extensions. This is that ugly rectangular tube that you trip over when you walk around your home. The purpose of this is to carry roof water away from the foundation of your home. It’s very common for these to be removed, some people do not care for the way they look, sometimes they just fall off, and sometimes they get removed to mow around and don’t get re installed. Whatever the case is it is very important to keep these installed.

This is a common Minneapolis Minnesota home inspection picture. As you can see it’s a Picture 012down spout without an extension that will dump water right at the foundation of the home. I want you to think of this as purposely installing equipment to direct water to a specific area of the foundation, this is a bad idea and easily fixed by replacing the extension.

Water that accumulates near the foundation of the home will soak into the ground and may find its way into your basement. As the years go by it will also cause your foundation to move. Neither of these problems are something you want to deal with, especially foundation movement. I’ve seen foundation repair estimates up to $50,000 and I’m sure they go higher.  Wet basements lead to higher humidity levels in the home, mold, and damage to interior surfaces. Maintaining your gutter system and downspout extensions will not guarantee that you won’t have these issues but is by far the easiest maintenance task that goes a long ways to help prevent one of the most costly problems in homes.

I get asked all the time, “how far should it extend away from the house”?  While one answer does not work for all homes the best rule of thumb is long enough to get the water to flow away from your house. All homes are different based on the surrounding grade, sidewalks, and how close the neighbor’s house is. Underground drains can be installed to clean up the look and get under sidewalks and landscaping.

Go out today and do a quick inspection of your gutter system

Pete Busch
Minneapolis Minnesota Home Inspector
763 442 4039

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