Water can destroy wood, masonry, concrete, rock, steel, and other home construction materials. Therefore, it is critical to direct water away from a home. While most people immediately think of gutters when the topic arises, exterior water management involves much more than installing a properly sized gutter system. There are several ways to direct water away from the foundation of a home.
Proper grading of ground surfaces adjacent to the foundation of the house is the most effective exterior water management technique. Soil and asphalt or concrete surfaces should be sloped away from the home, dropping six inches for every six-foot area. This helps to channel rainwater and melted ice and snow away from the foundation. Proper grading can prevent water from seeping into basements and causing additional problems.
If soil rests against the walls of the foundation, adding non-porous soil such as hard clay near the walls and sloping it a minimum of one inch for every foot should improve water runoff. The non-porous soil should extend six feet or more away from the home. Slabs of asphalt or concrete flatwork adjacent to a foundation may need to be sealed, replaced, or repositioned.
Improperly designed terraces and even landscape boxes can collect and store water, allowing it to rest against foundation walls. These areas should be equipped with drainage systems that permit water to drain through them and away from the home. If the foundation of the house contains stone or block, the mortar should be maintained so water cannot make its way inside the home.
When combined with a high-quality gutter system, these exterior water management techniques should prevent rainwater, snow, and ice from causing damage to a home. By handling water from the outside of the home, homeowners prevent water from seeping into their houses. This saves them time and money required to repair water damage to the foundation.
A gutter system plays a big role because it alone is responsible for conducting rain, snow, ice, and even hail away from a structure before these can cause any damage. If a gutter is leaking, has begun sagging, or has pulled away from the edge of the roof, water can enter the home and wreak havoc. Gutter systems are not created equal, so it is important to research the options before making a purchase.
The system must be able to handle the anticipated volume of water without overflowing. At the same time, it must not create an eyesore. A gutter specialist can determine the correct size for gutters and downspouts based on expected water flow and the size and design of the home. This professional also knows which downspout configuration will most effectively drain water away from the house.
Gutters are made from copper, steel, vinyl, aluminum, and other materials. Many types are sold in ten-foot lengths, with slip fittings used to fasten seams. Seamless gutters made from aluminum are also available. These feature seams only at corners and downspout outlet locations, with the gutter itself being a continuous piece, typically made from aluminum.
A gutter system can be installed on an average home in a single day. If a seamless gutter is selected, a special trailer- or truck-mounted machine is used to cut each piece to a custom measurement. Various attachment options are available including a spike and hollow tube called a ferrule and a hidden bracket that locks into the gutter.
Before committing to a gutter system, request a consultation with a gutter professional to discuss the options. Ask for samples of the different materials and colors. Get a written estimate and several local addresses where gutters where installed. Compare workmanship, quality, and price to arrive at the best solution.
Outside gutters are often an area of the home that goes overlooked. It is usually a case of out of sight, out of mind for most homeowners. That is, of course, until the gutters are clogged and you notice water pouring over the edge of the roof. In order to make sure this does not happen to you, make it a routine to have your gutters cleaned twice a year, at least.
There are several reasons that gutters can end up being clogged and this can cause significant damage to both the foundation of the home and the roof. Scheduling regular maintenance of the gutters is a great way to avoid this from happening. You can either clean the gutters yourself or have a professional come in to do it for you to ensure it is done properly.
Fall is notorious for causing problems with gutters. If the gutter system is not properly protected, leaves and debris can easily get into the channels and cause clogging. It does not take very much to get into the downspout before it is completely blocked and unusable.
In addition to fall, winter can pose its own unique challenges for the gutters. If there is a significant ice buildup, clogged gutters can actually create ice dams on the roof. This will add extra weight to the roof and can force water to penetrate the roof and enter the home. Of course, this leads to ceiling leaks and significant repair costs.
Another concern that often goes overlooked when it comes to clogged gutters is damage to the foundation of the home. The gutters are designed to drain off water to specific areas. If the gutters are clogged, the water ends up coming right over the roof and can literally pound the ground close to the home. Eventually, that ground softens and can begin to sink in. Believe me, this is one bill you do not want to get and one that can be avoided simply by having your gutters cleaned twice a year.
A gutter protection system is any means of keeping leaves, sticks, and debris out of a home’s gutters while allowing water to flow through them and away from the home’s foundations, even in a heavy storm. It can be something as simple as a screen or as complex as a micro-mesh system, in which a micro-mesh filter attached to an aluminum frame is placed over the gutters. Costs rise with the system’s complexity, but so does performance.
Screens are typically laid flat on top of the gutters, intended to trap debris while allowing water to flow into and through the gutters. Unfortunately, debris quickly builds up on top of the screens, making it impossible for water to enter the gutters and rendering them useless. These were the earliest and remain both the cheapest and the least effective gutter protection systems.
Next came hoods. These were rounded tiles placed upside down, with domed tops. The problem with these was that, during heavy downpours, sheets of water spilled over the tops directly onto the ground near the home’s foundation. Leaves and pine needles also tended to hang on to their reverse curves, ultimately building up and causing debris to get in the gutters, with a clogged gutter in the offing.
Currently, state-of-the-art gutter protection systems are micro-mesh systems. The most advanced of these allow micro-debris to enter the home’s gutters along with the water that flushes it out. At the same time, they keep larger debris that could clog the gutters out of the system.
The ideal system will stream water into the gutter even with heavy rainfall, preventing its cascade over the edge where it may damage the home’s foundation. Slats with rounded tops lessen surface adhesion and increase the amount of water that is immediately admitted into the gutters. Micro-meshing will keep debris out of the gutters, and a sloped surface without ridges or valleys will promote easy flushing.