Your home's gutter systems has the primary purpose to manage the water flow that will affect the home. The biggest complaint a home-owner usually deals with is a leaky basement. This usually happens after a rainstorm or during a spring thaw.
Grading and Landscaping
Proper grading is a 6 in drop in height starting at the foundation for a distance of 10 feet. This equals about a 2% slope. More than likely, the backfill against the foundation met this requirement at one point in time. However, after many years, the ground will settle. This is when problems usually start. Instead of the ground sloping away from the foundation, it will change direction and start sloping towards the foundation. Water will always seek the lowest level and will start pooling next to the foundation. As it seeps into the ground, it can cause more settling, making the problem worse.
Sump Pumps and Drain Tiles
Some homes were equipped with a drain tile system that was installed when the home was constructed. This drainage system helps with water control and will channel water that ends up around the foundation to a sump pit located in the basement. As the water in the pit reaches a specific height, the pump will turn on and pump the water out of the pit and either into a storm water drain or back onto the property through a long hose. I've inspected many homes where this hose has been removed and the water from the sump pump discharges directly outside next to the foundation!
This is a picture of typical soil erosion next to a foundation wall of a home that has no gutters installed. Rain water falls from the roof and hits the ground directly under the eves. With time, the soil will begin to settle and this type of valley will form. Because water will seek the lowest level, it will pool in this trough and eventually work its way to the foundation and possible into the basement. Remember, your basement is a hole in the ground that is trying to keep water out. Adding more water puts unnecessary stresses on your foundation and basement walls.
Leaders, Extensions, and Splash Blocks
These items are located at the end of the downspout and serve two primary functions. First, they channel water away from the foundation and second, they help reduce the erosion of the soil. Fast running water is very good at moving soil. In fact, it was the primary method used to mine gold in California during the days of the Gold Rush. It was quickly banned because of the severe damage that was done to the environment.
Most gutter extensions are not fastened to the downspout and can easily be dislodged. It is a great idea, especially in the spring of the year, to check that all leaders are in place and not crushed. Spring rains are coming and you want to keep the water out of your basement!
If your home is in a location that has many trees or trees with very small leaves like pine trees installing gutter guards are a great help. There are many products on the market and we've found one of the better ones are manufactured by Master Shield. This system acts as a water filter that separates the debris from the water directing the water away from your foundation.