How clogged gutters can cause foundation damage
Clogged gutters can cause water to flow down the sides of the home and pool around its foundation. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jeanine L. of Felton, Del.)
Gutters are basically long channels that sit along the lower edge of your roof. They're designed to capture all the water that hits your roof when it rains or melts after a snow, ensuring that it travels safely to the ground.
These channels are angled slightly to direct water to the downspouts, which allow the water to fall to the ground in a controlled manner. The end of the downspout is curved to ensure the water is deposited away from the home's foundation. Without the gutter, or with a defective or clogged gutter, the water would simply fall right next to the house and form a pool near the foundation.
Foundations and water damage
Once water pools near the foundation, two major issues can arise along with a host of smaller problems. First, pooling water means the soil underneath the water is completely saturated, and putting an enormous amount of pressure on the side of your home. Over time, this pressure can cause the basement and lower walls to push inward or crack.
Second, when the water finally drains off, it may erode away the soil, causing the foundation to settle. This can eventually result in uneven floors or cracks in walls and chimneys.
Once cracks appear in the foundation, even if a collapse is not about to happen, water will then enter the home through those cracks where it can cause mold growth.
Keeping your gutters clean
With all the damage standing water can do to your home, you certainly want to keep your gutters operating at peak efficiency. Over the course of the year, especially in the spring and fall, debris from nearby trees and even your yard can get clogged in your gutters.
Preventing these blockages is simply a matter of cleaning your gutters and downspouts twice each year. For the handy, this means climbing a ladder and scooping out the gunk. For those who don't want to get up on a ladder, almost any contractor who does gutter installations will also offer a cleaning service for a small fee. There are also gutter protection products available such as covers, screens and inserts. While they won't completely remove the maintenance factor, they can significantly reduce the chances of a blockage.
For more information, please visit the Angie's List Guide to Gutter Systems.