Importance of Proper Roof Water Drainage
Proper roof water drainage is very important in building maintenance. Even if the grade around a home is correct, the water running off the roof can wreak havoc on the foundation. Depending on the amount of soffit overhang, the roof water splashing on the ground will over time cause water damage and deterioration to the foundation walls and siding of the home, and even structural damage to the framing depending on how high the bottom plate of the wall is above the ground in some cases.
Gutters Need Maintenance
When large trees are near the roof, gutters need continual cleaning unless effective leaf guards are installed. Overflowing gutters are no better than no gutters at all. When tree leaves and debris are constantly clogging up the gutters, gutter screens or gutter guards are a logical improvement that should be considered, they are very often well worth the cost if properly installed. Of course the gutter need to be properly installed also, sometimes the hangers come loose, gutter can sag, sometimes leaks develop at joint seams and ends. Plastic or vinyl gutters will often crack, older galvanized gutters will eventually rust and require replacement.
Expansive Soil/Clay and Foundation Cracks
Expansive soils often contain types of clay and are capable of absorbing water which increases their volume. The more water they absorb the greater their volume becomes. Basement and crawlspace foundation walls are often cracked by expansive or swelling soils which have been saturated with excess water resulting from improper roof water drainage or lack of gutters and downspouts and proper grading.
When expansive soils surround a home with a basement or crawl space it is extra important to have gutters and downspouts that drain the water at least 4 to 6 feet away from the foundation walls, the further the better, making sure that the soil grade is proper to keep the water moving away from the house. I often see downspout extensions that are sufficient length but the grade is positive and the water just flows back towards the foundation, not too helpful.
Wet Basements and Crawlspaces
It is amazing how much gutters and downspouts, when they are properly installed, can help with or even eliminate wet basements! A dry basement is a huge asset in any home verses a wet, damp, or moldy basement and all the related problems. Gutters and downspouts are all that’s needed sometimes to turn a wet, musty basement into a suitable living or storage area. Sometimes to achieve a dry basement may require additional steps such soil grading improvements, a sump pump, damp proofing or water proofing foundation walls. Gutters and downspouts should always be the first step since they are usually the least expensive and most effective.
All Houses and Properties Are Different
A good home inspector will help you understand what the priorities are on a given property. The importance of proper roof water drainage varies from house to house. Some homes can get away without gutters for various reason such as:
- very good drainage around the outside of the foundation
- water proofed foundation walls
- footer drain(s) tied into a sump pump
- very good grading of soil and hard-scapes around the house
- large roof soffits that overhang the walls 3 or more feet
I hope this information was helpful. For wet basement evaluation or a great home inspection in Central New York, call Tom Francis at 315-439-1103.