A Clogged Gutter Can Lead to a Damaged Foundation—Here’s Why

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated October 28, 2021
Gutters on luxury house in the suburbs
mrberry / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Clogged gutters can lead to more than just a day spent cleaning up wet leaves

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A damp basement and excess water in your foundation can lead to many problems, from damaged keepsakes to peeling paint to mold or even actual structural damage. There are many ways water can get into your basement, but one of the biggest culprits is often preventable: clogged gutters. Find out how clogged gutters can weaken your foundation and how to avoid it.

What Is the Purpose of a Gutter System?

You’re probably pretty acquainted with the look of your gutters by now but may not know exactly what they do. Simply put, the purpose of your gutter system is to guide rainwater or water from snowmelt off of your home’s roof. The gutters slope toward a downspout, which either directs water away from the house or connects to an underground drainage system such as a French drain. During heavy storms or runoff, the gutters will protect your foundation from water damage.

How Do Clogged Gutters Lead to Foundation Damage?

When gutters get clogged, they cannot perform the basic functions outlined above, which can lead to basement flooding. Water runoff from your roof should travel through your gutters and then be directed at least 10 feet away from your house. If your gutter system is clogged, this can create a block that forces water to drain down the side of your home, where it pools around the foundation. The water can seep into your basement through cracks in the slab foundation or leak through joints, masonry, and concrete.

Water pooling too close to the foundation of your house can cause soil erosion, which can further weaken the structure of your home. The water damage can also cause rot and weakness in joists, basement columns, and other wooden structures.

How Do You Prevent Clogged Gutters?

Brown rain gutter on modern brick home
brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Clogged gutters are typically thanks to debris such as leaves that build up over a season, so it is important to inspect and clean your gutters regularly. Gutter guards, also known as gutter screens, covers, or helmets, can help cut down on the amount of debris that can get into the gutters themselves, helping to prevent clogs.

If you just can’t reach your gutters to clean them or would rather spend the day relaxing on the couch, you can contact a local gutter cleaning professional to get the job done right.

What Are the Best Gutters to Protect Your Foundation?

In short, the best gutter system is one with downspouts that direct water away from your home and has no leaks or damage. With that in mind, you can choose the best gutter systems for you based on cost, as well as appearance. These systems also come in different gauges and in various materials, including vinyl, steel, aluminum, and copper. 

If you are considering installing a new gutter system, it is important to talk to a local gutter installer. They can ensure that the gutters slope enough to direct water off your roof and that your downspouts are installed correctly. From there, as long as you regularly clean and inspect your gutters, you can rest easier knowing your home is safe and dry.

How Can You Prevent Water Damage to Your Foundation?

There are several ways you can help keep water out of your basement. These include:

  • Regularly inspecting and cleaning your gutters

  • Properly installing gutters and downspouts

  • Providing good drainage around the foundation, including drain tiles or French drains

  • Using landscaping techniques to direct water away from your foundation

  • Grading the surface around your home to direct water away from your foundation

  • Installing a sump pump in the basement to pump out excess groundwater around the foundation

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