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Clean Gutters Can Prevent Foundation Damage

cleaning out gutter

Originally posted 5/21/19, updated 2/9/22

People often overlook cleaning gutters, because they don’t think it will have any impact on their house.  It’s a tedious and often gross chore; it requires you to lug a ladder around the entire perimeter of your home, scooping out leaf litter and “gunk” from your guttering.  

But the fact is, clogged gutters can damage your home’s health and stability.

Acculevel has been waterproofing homes and repairing foundations since we opened our doors in 1996.  We’re a family-owned and operated company that has helped more than 35,000 homeowners restore health and stability to their homes.  We understand that your home is probably your greatest investment and that you need it to maintain its value.

In this article, we’re going to explain how clean gutters protect your house, what can happen if they’re clogged, and provide additional things you can do to prevent problems. 

 

Why Are Clean Gutters So Important To My Home’s Health? 

Cleaning your gutters is an ideal introductory-level task for homeowners.  It doesn’t take expensive tools or equipment and you don’t need to learn any specialized skills.  It is a simple task with major payoff.

If your gutters are clean, rainwater will smoothly drain off the roof, down the guttering, and away from your home.  This is what you want; the entire process works to remove the water a safe distance from your foundation.

Clogged gutters don’t drain.  Water will flow into the gutter, hit obstructions, then splash out the sides of the gutter.  And where does this water go? Directly next to your foundation.   

Dirty gutters don’t function properly.  They allow water to collect around your foundation, where it is a threat for three reasons: 

  1. Erosion
  2. Hydrostatic pressure
  3. Water damage in your basement or crawl space

 

Erosion Causes Your Foundation To Sink

We all know water can cause erosion, but did you know that erosion is the primary cause of a settling foundation?  

porch that is cracked and settling
This photo was taken by an Acculevel project advisor during a free in-home assessment.  The porch foundation is settling to one side, causing cracks and gaps to form. 

When water eats away at the soil underneath your foundation, it can cause one section to sink faster than the others.  This uneven sinking (settling) strains the home’s structure.  If you have cracks in your foundation and in your drywall, you may already have a settling issue.  

Want a detailed review of the signs of settling? Check out this blog. 

 

Hydrostatic Pressure Can Cause Your Foundation To Crack Or Bow Sink

When it rains, the soil in your yard absorbs as much moisture as it can.  But once the ground is fully saturated, excess water creates hydrostatic pressure.   Essentially, this is water moving through the ground until it runs into an obstruction (like your house).  The water collects along the foundation and presses against it.  

This pressure may not sound like a big deal, but your foundation is not built to withstand it.  Foundations are designed to resist weight and pressure from above, because the foundation’s job is to support your house.  Hydrostatic pressure “attacks” from the side, which can create cracks and even bowing walls.


This photo was taken by an Acculevel project advisor during an in-home assessment.  This long horizontal crack is an indication of hydrostatic pressure. 

If you have a badly cracked wall- or worse, a wall that is starting to lean or bow inward- you need to take action at once.  Once a wall starts to ‘give way’ it is structurally compromised; this means it’s unstable and could actually collapse!

For more information about foundation cracks and their urgency, please read this blog

 

Water Damage Can Be Frustrating And Expensive

If your home has a basement, you can imagine how upsetting it is when your basement floods.  Everything you store in that space could be ruined, water has to be pumped out of it, then the walls and floor have to be scrubbed clean to prevent mildew or other biological growth.  And that’s assuming none of the flooded area is finished!  Having to throw out carpets, rugs, furniture, and wet drywall is exponentially worse.

Now if you have a crawl space instead of a basement, you may be thinking you’re off the hook!  But that’s not the case.  You may not be storing out of season belongings in that area, but there’s still plenty of items for water to damage.  Because your crawl space is so short, the wooden flooring structure of your home is threatened by water intrusion.

extremely moldy floor joists
This photo was also taken by an Acculevel project advisor during a free in-home assessment. Frequent water intrusion has caused the main beam and floor joists to mold, rot, and decay.

Basement waterproofing or crawl space encapsulation may be necessary, to control frequent water intrusion and flooding. 

 

Is Cleaning Your Gutters Enough? 

If you receive a higher than average rainfall, have a naturally high water table, or live in a flood-prone area, cleaning your gutters will not protect your foundation from water.  But if you only rarely have water intrusion or flooding, clean gutters could make the difference.  

Another potential DIY project you may want to consider is adding downspout extensions to your gutters.  These take more physical labor, but are still a relatively straightforward task.

downspout during installation
This photo was taken by an Acculevel team member, while installing a downspout extension.  The pop-up drain is attached, but the extension has not yet been covered with soil. 

We have a written tutorial that walks you through the four steps needed for a downspout extension.  This article also includes a video demonstration by one of our team members, if you’d like to see the process in action. 

 

Looking For Other Ways to Protect Your Home? 

We have another free resource for you to use!  Our DIY Home Inspection checklist will walk you through a detailed examination of your home’s foundation, basement, or crawl space.  We recommend that you perform a home evaluation twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall seasons.  

If you aren’t the DIY type, or if you don’t want to squeeze into your crawl space, you can also sign up for our Home Inspection Program.  HIP customers can schedule an inspection performed by one of our service technicians, who are trained to properly and thoroughly inspect your home for any signs of potential problems.

 

Have Signs of Foundation Damage or Water Intrusion?

Please contact a reliable and experienced foundation repair company, one that is properly insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  It is essential that you work with a contractor who is well-versed in foundation repairs; a general contractor does not have the specialized knowledge that you need for this type of problem.

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding area, call Acculevel or complete our online form.  We will schedule an in-home appointment with one of our expert project advisors.  They will discuss your concerns, evaluate your entire home, and determine what options you have.

As a team, you and your project advisor will decide on the best course of action for you and your family.  At Acculevel, we focus on providing whole-home solutions.  This means we want to repair any foundation issues or water intrusions that you’re experiencing.  But we also want to eliminate the cause of these issues.  We don’t want to do band-aid type repairs that keep recurring- these incomplete solutions deplete valuable resources like your time and money!

 

 

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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