Gutters and Basement Flooding

The third most common reason for basement flooding is leaking rain gutters. (In case you’re curious, the first two are: faulty plumbing and cracks in exterior walls). While basement flooding might appear to be a nuisance or a mess you have to clean up, consistent flooding can lead to serious health issues, structural damage and “hidden” cost like an increase of insurance premiums or depreciating property values.

Rain gutters are designed to protect your home from the water that runs off the roof of your home. They should collect this runoff and direct it to the downpipe (or downpipes, depending on the size of your home and the roof’s configuration), which drains it away from the foundation. If there is a problem with the gutter system, it could result in a flooded basement.

To prevent gutters from being the cause of problematic basement flooding, check the following:

  • the downpipe(s) should extend 6 to 10 feet from your basement wall
  • the water is being drained away from the house toward a “safe” place (street, back lane, back yard, landscaped area designed to handle the drainage)
  • if the downspout is connected to the house’s sewer system, disconnect it
  • if the gutters are overflowing regularly, this could be an indication that the gutter system is clogged either along a length of gutter, at the top of the downspout or somewhere inside the downpipe
  • when gutters overflow in spite of being cleaned regularly, this may be a sign that the gutter system is not able to handle the amount of water – they should be replaced with larger size gutters (6” rather than 5” for example) and downpipes