You don’t have to be an expert to know that puddles in the basement or a lake on the front lawn are signs of drainage problems.
But many drainage problems aren’t so obvious. Here’s how the pros read some of the more subtle signs of bad drainage.
Sign #1: Gushing gutters
A mini Niagara over the edge of your gutter means dead leaves and debris are blocking the flow. But you don’t need a live gusher to tell you you’ve got problems: Vertical streaks of dirt on the outside of gutters, mud spattered on siding, or paint peeling off the house in vertical strips are other sure signs. If you don’t take action, overflowing gutters can rot siding, ruin paint jobs, and cause structural damage.
Sign #2: Downspouts that dump
Each inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of a roof produces more than 600 gallons of runoff—enough to fill 10 bathtubs to the brim. Dumping that much water too close to the foundation can send it right into the basement, where it can ruin furnishings, flooring, and all the stuff you swore you’d put on shelves one day.
Sign #3: Water stains in the basement
Depending on where a stain shows up, you can tell if the problem is caused by surface water, which can be easy to deal with, or water travelling underground, a potentially bigger headache.
Sign #4: Cracks in the foundation
Foundations often have small cracks that appear as houses settle over time. Most are harmless, but bigger cracks bear watching. Keep an eagle eye on cracks larger than 1/8-inch wide by marking the ends with an erasable pencil line. Measure the width and jot it down. If you notice the cracks are growing, you’ve got potential problems.
Sign #5: Flaking and deposits on walls
If you see areas of white or gray crust on the basement walls, that’s efflorescence—mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water. Or the wall may be flaking off in big patches, a condition called spalling.
Sign #6: Mildew in the attic
Sure, the attic might be a strange place to look for drainage problems, but mildew on the underside of the roof can be a tipoff to serious trouble at the ground level.
Sign #7: Migrating mulch
When soil doesn’t drain properly, rain runs off in sheets, carving gulleys in the landscape, dumping silt on pathways, and carrying piles of mulch or wood chips where they don’t belong.
Tackle these problems now instead of later and not only will you save big bucks but also your home.