The severity of a wet basement due to blocked downspouts can be reduced. Anyone who has purchased a home and used the services of a Home Inspector is familiar with the statement ” Positive drainage away from the house.” This applies in both winter and summer but especially in winter. In the summer we enjoy our entire property. We use our backyards, cut the grass and rake the leaves. We can see the effect of detached downspouts and negative drainage. Water will pool in low areas around your foundation. This pooling of water will enter your basement through cracks and other openings.
In most cases, winter keeps us unaware of potential problems. Often we don’t see three sides of our home until the spring. The snow and ice create a moat effect. This allows the water to remain next to the foundation. Any opening in the foundation will create a path of less resistance and a wet basement. 90% of the homes we visit in the winter have frozen and blocked downspouts. Understandably, there has to be an opening for water to enter your basement, however, reducing the amount of water through creative downspout management might just save you from a more costly outcome.
Contrary to popular belief, eavestroughs do not cause ice dams, however, they can aggravate the situation if the water cannot exit a frozen downspout. Downspout extensions are extremely important when they are located at garage door corners. Water pooling at those locations is often responsible for foundation lifting as a result of adfreeze. The ideal time to manage your downspouts adjustment is after all the leaves have fallen. The leaves and debris in the gutters should then be removed and the downspouts managed before the snow arrives. This is not to say that they can’t be down in the winter, it is just more practical as well as less cold in the fall. Most downspouts end too close to the ground (see picture). This does not allow for a longer extension to drain the water further away from the foundation. Furthermore, placing the elbow higher allows you to support the extension above the snow cover in the winter.