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  • john henry

Downspout Drainage: The Down and Dirty


One of the main reasons basements and crawlspaces flood can be traced back to water mitigation issues, specifically, downspout drainage. Downspout drainage is something that is commonly overlooked by homeowners but can be detrimental to a home's foundation or basement/crawlspace condition.

Let's take a closer look:

Condition/Cause:

In one year, more than 50,000 gallons of rainwater (give or take!) can land on roofing systems and run off to gutters and downspouts next to the home, which is a monumental amount of water directed toward your foundation wall. This water can be the culprit of many water intrusion issues and material damage.

Current homes and new construction in this area are built with underground drainage systems for roof runoff or other systems, like french drains or dry wells. In some cases, older homes had underground drainage but were made of materials like concrete and clay that may have since succumbed to degradation and have now failed. This creates a similar situation to having no drainage at all.

Consequence:

Common issues that arise due to this condition have detrimental effects on the home. Settlement of soil around and under the foundation wall/footer can occur, which can cause a reduction in support for the foundation that can lead to settlement of the home, foundation cracking, and other issues.

Water build up around foundation wall can also occur, which can result in foundation cracking from too much exterior pressure or moisture being pushed through the concrete forming efflorescence on the inside of the foundation wall. This takes the form of a salty white residue left over after the moisture evaporates on the inside of the foundation wall. If this is present inside your basement, it may be an indication of static water buildup against your foundation wall.

Of course, dumping water against your foundation wall can also lead to leakage into the crawlspace or basement areas. The majority of issues with leaking foundation walls has to do with water mitigation, which includes downspout drainage.

Correction:

Water mitigation is the key. If your downspouts drain directly next to your foundation wall or onto a splash block, you should correct it as soon as possible. A few options for correction are to divert the water run-off away from the foundation wall by 6-8 feet. This is a good start, but the only way to guarantee that water is not traveling back to your foundation wall is to install underground drainage at the base of your foundation wall around the perimeter of your home, or install something like a dry well that you can run your water run-off to far away from the home. The basic concept is to get the water away from the foundation wall and to a location that it can't do any damage.

Although there is more to know about this issue (there always is), I hope you learned a little about downspout drainage and water mitigation and what to do about it.

As always, if you have any concerns about this issue as it relates to a current condition in your home, please contact a professional contractor to have it evaluated.

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