Rotten wood, sagging driveways, peeling paint those are the first signs that something has gone terribly, terrifyingly wrong. One house in Durham, NC we saw recently was experiencing all of those warning signs when they called us, and unfortunately theirs turned out to need extensive foundation repair.
What do those warning signs mean?
Rotten wood and peeling paint mean moisture has leaked in and around your house, and a sagging driveway could mean soil moving due to over drying, or moisture. These signs could mean your foundation is sinking, shifting, or simply not working the way it should; and it really should work, because your house is sitting on it.
Anyone who has had foundation work done will tell you, it doesn’t come cheap and it doesn’t come easy- it’s labor intensive and long, but well worth the safety of your house and family. What is surprising is the ease of avoiding such tragic and expensive repair.
There is one little thing that is often overlooked that could save you from having to have these major and expensive foundation problems- clean your gutters.
We don’t think about our gutters often enough, we usually only notice them when there is a problem with them, such as when they are disconnected from our houses or when they’re not working properly; although many people have learned to have their gutters cleaned, many more still find it too tedious to take care of. But especially here in the warm South, it’s important to clean them. The weather here is so unpredictable and we have so many beautiful trees, that many times we see gutters full of leaves and water- sometimes things even start growing in the muck that builds up over time!
Other things can grow in that muck too, bug infestations aren’t unheard of, and termites are another huge issue so close to your foundation.
Clogged gutters are the most common problem we see with gutters and it often causes overflowing of rain water that then drips down on your walls and to your foundation- often there will be pools at the bottom of the wall that never get dried up. The debris can also lead to sagging in your gutters, and standing water.
What We Recommend When it Comes to Those Nasty Gutters
Have your gutters cleaned at least twice a year- around the time when a lot of debris is falling. We usually recommend one cleaning in the spring and another in the fall.
Make sure that your gutters are sloped correctly- standing water due to weird slopes in your gutter may lead to holes in the pipe caused by rusting. When water escapes the gutter, it will trickle down and sit on your foundation.
Drain the rain at least 10’ away from your foundation- we see this mistake many times. The downspout deposits water three feet from your house, all over your foundation. Water gets in to the concrete, freezes during the next frost, and causes all kinds of cracks and damages.
Make sure the soil surrounding your foundation is not sloped towards it- if you have a rolling hill of a front yard, it’s worth thinking about having someone come and inspect where the standing water is collecting. If it is collecting too close to your foundation, it could cause shifts, slopes and sags that could cost a bundle to get fixed up.
It’s worth keeping up with your gutters.
The most common problems that we see with gutters can be easily avoided with a little maintenance. The little time and money your put in to your gutters each year could end up saving you thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands, on foundation repairs later on. We were too late to help those folks in Durham with their gutters, but don’t let this wonky spring trip you up. Get your gutters clean and sturdy, and enjoy your spring showers peacefully, knowing your foundation is safe.