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How Falling Leaves Impact Water Drainage

Beautiful fall leaves can create rainwater backups and cause a great deal of damage. Here's the rundown on the damage you can expect and how to prevent it.

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Autumn brings a superbly colorful landscape with changing leaves and cooler temperatures. But those same colorful leaves will begin to drop onto our homes and lawns, along with increased rainfall. 

During a one-inch rainstorm, a roof of 1,000 square feet collects more than 600 gallons of water. That water then runs off the roof and onto your lawn, which has collected at least that much water, if not far more. 


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Cracked foundation
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Leaves and Water Drainage

That’s where those fallen leaves get into the act by stacking up on the roof, clogging gutters and downspouts, and collecting around your foundation. All that greatly impedes drainage resulting in water saturating the soil and building up around the home’s foundation, causing all sorts of trouble.

Water Drainage Problems

When leaves build up on the roof, they collect water that can find its way into your attic through any damaged shingles or flashing. That water can also freeze, causing still more damage, including forming an ice dam that collects even more water.

Leaves and other debris can also find their way into the gutters and downspouts. The gutters are meant to collect the water and route it through the downspouts onto the ground away from the foundation. If they are clogged with leaves, the water runs right over the gutters and falls directly on the foundation.

If leaves are stacked up around your lawn, they will impede the flow of water away from the foundation. This can result in pooling, along with saturated soil around the basement or crawl space walls. That, coupled with the water flow off the roof, builds up hydrostatic pressure on the walls. This leads to cracks in the walls and water finding its way in through those cracks as well as any other openings. 

Once water is in your basement or crawl space, the problems start to mount. Of course, water coming into contact with anything causes damage. That includes drywall, carpeting, electrical wiring, water heaters or other appliances, and even wooden support beams. Rotting wooden supports can lead to further structural issues. 

Water can also develop mold and mildew as well as attract pests. Coupled with the stack effect, which causes air to rise from the basement or crawl space into the rest of the home, it can increase humidity and add unpleasant smells to the rest of your home.

Water Drainage Solutions

There is a wide range of options for addressing water drainage problems. Here’s the list.

  • Clear leaves from the roof and lawn.

Keep up with falling leaves by clearing them off the roof and away from the foundation. All this facilitates the free flow of rainwater away from the foundation.

  • Maintain the landscape grading.

Make sure the landscape is properly graded to move water away from the foundation. This is also a good time to trim trees and shrubs, making sure the branches don’t cause damage to the roof or the roots to the foundation.

  • Clean out gutters and downspouts.

Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and ready to handle the flow of rainwater, and later in the year, any snowmelt. Add downspout extensions to move the water well away from the foundation. It’s our recommendation that you clean out gutters and downspouts at least twice a year. Spring and fall are the optimum times.

  • Fix any basement or crawl space cracks.

Water buildup can create cracks and then seep into them, causing considerable damage. Identify and fix any cracks you find. 

  • Waterproof the basement or crawl space.

In addition to fixing cracks, install an interior drainage system and sump pump that can remove any water before it causes damage.

We’ve also created this handy list of seasonal maintenance tips to help protect your basement or crawl space.

We Can Help

We can help with a review of your foundation to identify what steps are needed to secure it and protect your home.

Our partners across the country will complete a thorough evaluation and recommend customized repair solutions. Contact us today for a free inspection and estimate.