Friday, September 16, 2011

Wet basement? Why your eave trough and down spouts could be the problem!

Most people take for granted there eave trough exist on their house until it falls off or something goes wrong with it.
I have showed up at client’s houses that have water problems in their basements and want a price on re-waterproofing the whole foundation of the house. This is an expensive endeavour; it requires a machine to dig around the whole house, removing all flower beds and decks/porches. Then you remove the existing waterproofing and install new waterproofing. You also check the weeping tile to make sure that is working properly.
Before I give a homeowner a quote on a project of this scale there are a few things that I want to do first. I have to establish where in the basement the water has shown itself, I then go outside and do a circle check of the perimeter of the house. There are a lot of things that can cause a basement to leak that are not the water proofing’s fault. 
-If you do not have negative grade away from the house, water will run to the foundation and not away from it.

-Window wells are not properly connected to the weeper system at the house footings. Or weeping pipe is blocked in window well, allowing water to pool in well.

-Damage to the foundation wall from impact (trees, vehicle, lawnmower and animals) creating cracks and tears in the waterproofing.

-Backfill was not sand, stone or other fill that would allow water to seep down to the weeping tile, allowing the water to pool on the surface and back up against house.

-Sump pump in basement is not properly working, as in does not pump, or the level the pump is set at is above foundation floor.

-Sump pump line is not far enough away from house and is creating a cycling affect, where water pumped from under the house is deposited directly to the outside of the house.

If all these things are not happening then there are two other things that I check. The first is if the eave troughs are blocked on the roof, filled with leaves or other debris. Also if there is a proper slope on the eave trough so the water will run to the down spouts. If any of these things are happening then the eave trough will not properly be able to drain and the water will fill the trough until it spills over. All that water will spill down next to the foundation soaking the wall and creating pressure on the waterproofing and foundation.
The second thing that I check is if the eave trough gutters are clean and draining to the downspouts. Then the downspout and the exhaust are inspected. This is one of the big keys to keeping a basement dry. Where your downspout travels down a vertical face on your house and meets 90 degree turn at the bottom, this water coming of the roof gathers speed as it falls down the pipe until it impacts the 90 degree elbow at the bottom. If that elbow is broken or damaged, or not properly secured then you have a fire hose affect on the side of your house. Whenever water comes of the roof you are soaking the side of the foundation, saturating the ground around the house creating hydrostatic pressure, allowing water to invade the basement. If the elbow is ok then you check the distance of the run off pipe. A lot of runoff pipes are only 3 or 4 feet long, this does some good if you live in a fairly dry location. But if you are having water problems extending your run off pipes as far away from the house as possible is an easy first step.
On many a house after extending the run off pipes 20 feet away from the house (installing them underground until the end of the pipe) the homeowners reported no more water problems.
What most people do not understand is that waterproofing on your house foundation is just that “waterproofing”.  It is not designed to stop all water, but slow water down enough so that the weeper system and sump pump in and around your house can relieve hydrostatic pressure before it becomes too great for the waterproofing to withstand.
So with proper eave trough and run off pipes you can remove a lot of water that your sump pump and waterproofing would have to handle.
So remember, when you have water problems, digging up around the house is not the first option to fix the problem but the last.
If you require help with your water problems, feel free to give us a call (705) 466-3202 or email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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