Water is surprisingly harmful to a house. Rainwater that continuously falls from the roof and collects around the foundation of a house can have very damaging effects in the long term. That is why gutters in a house are very important.
Although gutters and downspouts are at the top of a house, they are actually very important to the bottom of the house – the foundation! If the soil around a foundation is wet and soggy frequently, it can become a haven for mold and mildew growth. Water can also cause soil erosion and damp basements and crawl spaces, damage to concrete, and worst of all, damage to the foundation.
When water saturates the soil around the foundation, it becomes heavy and creates a lot of pressure against the walls. This can cause bowing and cracking. Interestingly, water can also wash away the soil that supports the structure, leaving it without sufficient support. Soil also expands when wet and contracts when dry. This cycle can damage the base.
Sound gutters and downspouts play a critical role in channeling water around a home and then away from it. When there is a period of heavy rain, the gutters collect the water, direct it towards the downspouts and the downspouts carry it away from the structure.
The Mid-America Regional Council reports that each downspout in a home directs twelve gallons of water per minute out of the home during a 1-inch rain shower. Woof! That’s a lot more water than homeowners realize, and all that water can be a powerful force against a home if it’s channeled incorrectly.
Gutters must be kept in good repair. Homeowners should make sure their gutters are not clogged by leaves, are not moving away from the house, and are not disconnected anywhere.
If water runs directly from the downspout at the base of a home, it can seep into the basement or crawl space, thereby compromising the foundation and possibly creating damp, leaky spaces that encourage mold and mildew growth. Homeowners should ensure that downspouts direct water away from the foundation of the house at least a meter or more.
After a heavy rain, it is a good idea to walk around the perimeter of a home, checking for standing water or excessive moisture that is channeled into the foundation. If, during the perimeter walk, suspicious water is found, the gutters and downspouts should be inspected for obstructions and damage.