How a Gutter System Can Protect Your Home Foundation

How a Gutter System Can Protect Your Home Foundation

When you think about your gutters, it’s usually about how much you’re dreading cleaning them. For many, they’re just another chore on the to-do list, but not to the professional structural engineers at Crosstown Engineering. In fact, we believe your home’s gutters are the unsung heroes protecting your home foundation.

How Do Gutters Protect Your Foundation?

Rainwater runoff can erode and remove the soils from the areas around your home foundation. In turn, this will cause the soils underneath the foundation to lose their bearing capacity, which is what holds the foundation in place. Over time, this loss of strength can cause the foundation to settle, bend or break.

There are two types of erosion that indicate your gutter system is either not present, or not functioning properly.

  • Drip Line Erosion – This type produces an eroded area directly under the roofline.
  • Gutter Discharge Location Erosion – This type produces noticeable erosion around your downspout.

These erosion type scan cause negative long-term effects on your home foundation.

One way to prevent rainwater from eroding soils around the home foundation is to collect and direct the roof runoff away from the home using a well-designed and installed gutter system.

Adding a Gutter System to Your Home Roofline

Water that falls from your roofline will decimate the soils surrounding your home foundation. Over time, this can densify the soils and erode them away from your foundation and eventually exposing the home foundation. Once the embedment depth around the foundation is lost, the slab will flex and bend because of the lack of support it’s getting from the soils.

We recommend that a gutter system be installed on every eve to capture rainwater and direct it away from the home foundation with a sufficient gutter extension.

Extend Your Gutter Downspouts

If you discharge water next to your foundation, it can cause densification or erosion to the soils around your home, or even cause your soils to heave and cause significant foundation issues. You can avoid foundation problems by installing any combination of downspout extensions on your gutters.

There are many types of extensions you can add to your downspout. Simple downspout solutions are above ground and can be installed at a low cost. If you’re looking for something that is more visually pleasing, you can add an outlet or extension that goes beneath the ground. This option can discharge to another area or even to the curb.

Gutter System Maintenance

Leaves, roof particles and other debris can fill and clog your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause the water to overflow and release into places it’s not meant to.

Get a Professional Structural Engineer’s Opinion

If you suspect your home foundation may be at risk of erosion, have Crosstown Engineering inspect your property. Our inspectors are certified Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Inspectors, and can help you protect and maintain your home foundation. Contact one of our certified structural engineers today.

Photo Credit: Center For Neighborhood Technology