3 Ways to Avoid Structural Damage to Your Home
1. Gutter Maintenance
Keeping your home’s gutter system in proper working order is crucial to the health of your home. A poorly functioning gutter can create a lot of problems and cost thousands of dollars in damage. Maintaining the flow of water through your gutters and properly diverting the water away from the downspout is essential to avoid foundation damage in your home.
The gutters must retain their shape (not twisted or bent) and remain properly attached to your roof fascia to allow for proper water drainage. Downspouts must remain aligned and extended into the drainage pipes buried underground or functioning correctly with a downspout extension long enough (6ft is ideal) to divert water away from your foundation.
Wood and Siding Damage
Clogged or inefficient guttering can result in roof and soffit damage, and with water overflow, allow for moisture intrusion into a crawl space, siding, trim or window. The most common damage caused by a malfunctioning or overflowing gutter is in the soffit and fascia system. The water overflowing behind a gutter, saturates the wood fascia board on which most gutters are mounted. When this happens, the wood is kept moist by debris built up beyond the gutter lip. The water-saturated wood invites insects, fungus and rot. The fungus and rot can easily spread to the adjoining roof deck above and to the soffit below. It can also spread beneath painted wood, causing large areas of unnoticed damage that can continue for years, even after a gutter system is repaired or replaced.
In homes constructed without a soffit or where gutters are attached to the siding itself, the opportunity for water to intrude into the wall system is more likely. Water can be channeled behind the gutter and into adjoining siding, directed down the exterior of a wall and into the trim of a door or window. It can also be directed onto the sill of a window.
Maintaining the downspout is crucial as well. Making sure that water exiting a gutter downspout is properly directed away from a foundation or low lying area near the foundation, is equally important. Rainwater overflowing out of a gutter or improperly directed out of a downspout can cause large amounts of water to collect directly against a foundation wall. With a crawlspace or basement, water can penetrate into the soil under a structure. Consistently damp soil at the foundation invites insects like subterranean termites. Dampness at the foundation can produce efflorescence of salts from the concrete and damage the structural integrity of the foundation over time.
3. Avoid Movement from Lateral Ground Pressure
Proper backfill and soil characteristics come into play when a home is built. Foundation issues from poor planning can be seen years later after the soil has settled and frost pressure and water have done their damage. However, avoiding extra pressure from vehicles driving to close to the foundation or from building an in-ground pool without considering the foundation are 2 common issues that come into play.
Make sure you have a structural engineer assess your next project and factor in the condition and materials of your foundation. Will there be trucks and tractors driving near your foundation? Is your basement block foundation ready for an in-ground pool? A pool contractor may not know but they'll be happy to put that $30,000 pool wherever you want it.