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Damage from Rainwater Seepage
How to keep water seepage damage out of the house
It is common in Colorado to have localized afternoon and evening thunderstorms that can deposit significant amounts of rainwater over small areas. These short-lived storm cells can drop ¾ to 2” of rain in an hour and be gone.
When these storms occur, a significant number of homes will experience water damage from rainwater entering the home through basement window wells and foundation seepage. Unfortunately, this type of water damage is typically not covered under homeowner’s insurance policies.
How does this damage occur, and what can homeowners do to prevent it from happening? There are three contributing factors to this type of rainwater damage. Let’s look at each.
Rainwater Damage Factors, Causes, and Problems
- Clogged Roof Rain Gutters. When roof rain gutters get clogged with windblown debris, leaves and other materials, water collected by your roof and sent to the gutters will not flow to your downspouts but will pour over the gutter at the point of blockage and dump along your home’s foundation wall and sometimes directly into a window well. If there is enough water, that water will then seep into your basement. Keeping your gutters clean and free-flowing will prevent many of these problems.
- Roof Downspout Maintenance. Your roof is a giant rainwater collecting system. All the rainwater falling on your roof is sent to your gutters which, when flowing freely, send that large amount of water to the downspouts which deposit the water in your yard. If the downspouts deliver the water too close to your foundation or too near to a window well, that water may enter your basement. Homeowners should be maintaining downspout extensions so that the water delivered to the ground by the downspouts remains far enough from the foundation wall. Hardware and big box stores sell a variety of extension devices in varying lengths that are easily attached to downspouts or placed so the water collected flows away from the foundation wall and window wells. These range from actual downspout/gutter extensions, to plastic roll-out/roll-back up devices, to simple concrete pads that take the flow of water further away from the foundation wall.
- Landscape Grade Maintenance. A common cause of water entering a basement or crawlspace is what landscape professionals call “negative grade”. When your house was built, your general contractor had to make sure that the land in your yard slopes away from the foundation and that water from snow and rain flows away from the house and to an exit point to the street, open space, water retention area, etc. A positive grade therefore refers to a landscape that slopes down and away from the foundation. Over time, soil near the foundation can settle; concrete patios can settle along the foundation; improper landscaping and new plantings may lower the soil level along the foundation. These conditions result in a negative grade so that rainwater falling in these areas of negative grade now collects along the foundation wall rather than flowing away from the foundation. Water collecting along the foundation will trickle down through the soil and may enter the basement by seeping in where the basement slab meets the foundation wall.
➢You should visually inspect all around the foundation of your home and check to make sure you have a positive landscape grade everywhere.
- If you have negative grade it needs to be corrected by you or a landscape contractor.
- If you have a patio or other hardscape that has subsided along the foundation, it will be just a matter of time before that negative slope causes water damage in your basement.
- Patio negative slope can often be corrected by mud jacking.
- These conditions are the common contributors to rainwater seepage into the home. Sometimes all three of these occur together.
➢ Understanding how your roof, drip edging and gutter system acts as a rainwater collector and how your downspouts and landscape send water away from window wells and foundation wall will go a long way to preventing this kind of rainwater damage. But you must inspect, inspect, inspect!
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