Each fall and spring, it is important to remember to clean out your gutters to remove any leaves or other debris that has built up over time. This is rarely a homeowner’s favourite task, but it is an exceedingly important one. If left untended, gutters can end up leading to flooding and property damage when you need them to protect you most. Remember, the job of your gutters is to move water away from your home’s foundation. If they get clogged, water will end up pooling at the foundation instead. Even if this doesn’t cause basement flooding, the water can still lead to significant property damage.
Problems Caused by Blocked Gutters and Downpipes
Leaky Roofs or Saggy Ceilings
A clogged gutter results in standing water on your roof that can leak into the ceiling through small cavities. This can compromise the structure of the ceiling and lead to leaks, sags, or collapses in the worst scenarios.
Depending on where the clog is in your gutters or downpipes, water can end up pooling on your driveway. Although concrete is durable, it can be worn down over time by prolonged water exposure. This results in sags and cracks appearing in the driveway.
Your ceiling has a component known as “wood fascia”, which is basically a sort of connective layer of wood that helps maintain the structure. Even a few hours of standing water can cause the wood to begin decomposing and threatens the integrity of the home.
Recall that gutters are primarily meant to keep water away from your home’s foundation. A clogged gutter will inevitably fail in this task and water will begin to get deposited directly on the foundation wall and surrounding soil. As the soil becomes saturated with water, it places increasing pressure on the wall. Over time, this can lead to cracks, mould growth, and basement infiltration. Throw in a good rainstorm and you’ve got a recipe for basement flooding.
As water pours down the walls, it can damage the brickwork in addition to the foundation. This leads to further penetration and damp building up within the walls. If mould or moss ends up growing on these sites, the problem will be compounded even further.
How Gutters and Downpipes Become Blocked and Cause Problems
There is no one, universal cause for a gutter or downpipe clog. Keeping rainwater downpipes from being blocked or gutters from getting stopped up means being vigilant for a host of different culprits.
During the winter or in cold climates, ice dams can form on gutters along the lower edge of the roof. These frigid buildups prevent proper draining and cause water to build up to the point where it eventually seeps in to the home. Strictly speaking, ice dams can form even in the cleanest gutters, but clogged ones have more standing water and thus a higher chance of forming a dam.
The fall season has its name for a reason. As trees shed their leaves, all that foliage has to go somewhere and large portions often find their way into your gutters. These clumps of leaves can create significant clogs in your gutters that will trap water, dirt, and other debris to create a gunky blockage.
The downspout is the end of the downpipe, the part that sticks out and away from your property and where the water eventually comes out of. If properly placed, a downspout will deposit water past the “backfill zone”, the space where it could roll back down to the property. If a downspout is improperly positioned, it can inadvertently start leaving water within the backfill zone and lead to build-ups against your property.
A blocked gutter means that any rainwater will have nowhere to go except to spill on to the siding of your home. The more water, the more overflow, and the more excessive the potential damage. This can be more dangerous in winter when water will freeze in place and expand, potentially worsening any cracks already seeing infiltration.
Contact Flood Services Canada for Professional Basement Flooding Cleanup and Restoration
Should you end up facing water damage from a blocked gutter, or any other source, quite and professional action is often the best way to protect your property and recover belongings. When facing water damage, Flood Services Canada’s quick response teams of professional remediators will drain, dry, and save your property.