Ineffective Gutters

Ineffective gutters cause problems like leaking basements and flooding. Check out these signs you can look for to prevent damage.

Schedule Free Inspection
gutters filled with leaves

Keep Your Basement Water-Free by Locating Ineffective Gutters

Basement waterproofing is essential, especially in damp climates and those that experience frequent or sudden rainfall. Protecting your home from basement water allows you to prevent a whole array of problems from occurring. A crucial part of these protective measures is an effective gutter system, both internally and externally.

Gutters need to be capable of handling not only the volume of water your home experiences but debris. Roof water and external drains will see debris, including leaf litter, sticks, dead bugs, and dirt. Moisture can effectively cause these items to glue together, creating larger clumps of debris. Gutters that aren’t able to combat debris will eventually clog without frequent maintenance.

Internal gutters don’t need to handle as much debris, but they are even more critical for basement waterproofing. Draining water out of your basement and crawl space doesn’t just keep these areas dry, it keeps your home comfortable and free of mold, mildew, wood rot, and pests. If your gutters can’t effectively drain this water away, it will remain in these enclosed spaces. This causes humidity to develop, which will cause energy bills to rise as your air conditioning combats the heat.

Gutters also need to be made of durable materials that resist rust and weathering. Investing in a quality gutter system is an investment in keeping your home water-free. Let’s explore the problem signs you can expect and how to bring them to a stop.

Repairing Ineffective Gutters

Repairing ineffective gutters isn’t something to delay more than necessary. Allowing water to remain in your basement will cause problems. Left alone for long enough, the structural integrity of your home can be compromised.

In some cases, homes have crawl spaces without gutters to drain water away. This is especially problematic in unsealed crawl spaces, as the water can seep straight into the soil.

Depending on your home’s gutter system, you may need repair work done or a full upgrade or installation. Groundworks provides a range of basement waterproofing solutions, including the installation of high-quality gutters. But first, let’s see if yours are really up to snuff.

Solutions that fit into your life

Signs of Ineffective Gutters

Homeowners can look for several signs that their gutters aren’t performing These include:

  • Odors

One of the biggest signs that water isn’t being drained away properly is unpleasant odors. Aside from a damp smell, standing puddles of water will develop a pungent scent that can become vastly unpleasant. Odd odors in the home should spark an investigation, as they can be a sign that there are problems in areas not lived in, like crawl spaces and basements.

A telling sign that odors have been caused by an excess of water is when these smells are musty or damp.

  • Visible Blockages or Backflow 

Visible collections of debris are a sign that either your gutters need more frequent maintenance or they aren’t capable of handling your home’s debris. Basement gutter networks don’t typically see a great deal of debris. Roof gutters and crawl space gutters must be able to handle debris, however, and those that can eventually get blocked.

These blockages cause a backflow of water or prevent it from being drained at all. Backflow can rush back into your basement, causing flooding. During rainfall, you may see more aggressive backflow.

  • Puddling Water

If water is unable to pass through the gutters it will continue to collect and pool. Eventually, this will create a standing puddle of water. Finding puddles of water, especially those concentrated on top of gutters, is a big problem and a sign that the gutters aren’t working correctly. This can also be caused by a large blockage. Clearing the debris should allow the water to drain away unless there is a secondary problem. This is only a short-term solution. Upgrading your gutters designed with anti-clog measures is the best way forward.

  • Waterfalls 

Roof gutters that are blocked or overflowing will see waterfalls occur. This is when the overflow of water escapes by rushing over the sides of the gutter. In not being drained away from the house, this water is dumped directly into the soil bordering your foundation. This contributes to the hydrostatic pressure that every house with a submersed basement and foundation must deal with. 

  • Efflorescence

One sign to watch for is the development of efflorescence. This white substance is what is left behind as water dries. It isn’t dangerous, as it is composed of the minerals left behind after evaporation. It is a problem sign, though, as it means water has collected or passed over a surface. Usually, this must happen several times for efflorescence to build up to a visible degree.

Efflorescence is a sign of basement water issues, and not all of them are related to gutters. If you find efflorescence in your basement, get in touch with a local expert to see how you can get the damage repaired.

  • Mold, Mildew, and Wood Rot

A problem sign indicative of ineffective gutters is the development of mold, mildew, or wood rot. These organisms thrive in damp environments. Water trapped in enclosed environments, like crawl spaces and basements, will create the perfect situation for mold to grow.

Finding any mold, mildew, or wood rot growths is a sign that there are moisture control problems in your basement. One of the reasons for basement waterproofing is for keeping the space dry and thus preventing these organisms from growing. This preserves the indoor air quality of the home, keeping it comfortable and clean.

  • Humidity 

Fluctuating humidity levels are a sign that water isn’t being drained away from your basement. Humid air is warm, and so it rises into your home. Finding pockets of fluctuating or persistent humidity is not only a problem but a sign that your gutters aren’t clearing water away.

FAQs About Ineffective Gutters

Many concerns arise with ineffective gutters. At their base, ineffective gutters cause leaking and flooding, but those problems will spiral into secondary and tertiary concerns as well. Aside from the time it takes to clear away this excess of water, repeated exposures to water can cause other basement problems, which is a crucially important element.

  • Foundation Issues

Water is responsible for several foundation issues, typically due to hydrostatic pressure causing cracks to form in the foundation or water-soaked soil eroding and shifting over time. Draining water away from your basement and the surrounding earth preserves a drier environment, which will be much more ideal for your home.

If your drainage systems are incapable of handling the amount of water in question, or they do not remove water from your home properly (perhaps dropping it too close to your home) they can contribute to foundation problems. If water is allowed to pool around your property perimeter it can increase the levels of hydrostatic pressure and cause your walls and foundation to crack.

  • Basement Leaking

A sign that your gutters are ineffective is an excess of water in the basement. You can even experience basement flooding if the leaks are significant enough. This can indicate that your gutters aren’t capable of handling the volume of water, that you’re experiencing a blockage, or that repair work is necessary. It can also indicate that your basement drains are expelling the water too close to the foundation.

Basement flooding which occurs as a result of ineffective gutters can happen in several ways. Firstly, your basement can flood as a result of heavy rainfall, storms, or even a plumbing leak, and fail to drain quickly enough because the system is overwhelmed. Secondly, the gutters can be damaged and leak water back into your home. There is also the possibility of damage. 

  • Property Damage

It may not seem like it, but ineffective gutters can lead to property damage. Left without a resolution, this damage can grow to the point where it is irreversible without spending thousands of dollars to repair or replace it. Gutters that overflow spill water over walls, windows, doors, and furniture. Any items stored in the basement are at risk of destruction as well.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of property damage to worry about when it comes to ineffective gutters: structural and personal. Structural damage occurs when dampness is a prolonged and recurring issue and can involve damage to your flooring, drywall, and see rot forming in exposed wood. Damage to personal property involves things like your carpets and rugs as well as soft furnishings.

The process of an “ineffective gutter” can be confusing to many homeowners. What does an ineffective gutter do? Why is it ineffective in the first place? What do you need to do so you can “fix” that ineffective gutter? If you’ve had any of these questions while researching ineffective gutters and the options available, here are the answers you’ve been looking for.

  • Water Around the Foundation

First off, ineffective gutters typically allow water to pool around the foundation. Whether because of where the gutters deliver the water or because of the grading of the home, ineffective gutters don’t push water far enough away from the foundation of the home. That means the water pushes up against the foundation, often causing damage due to hydrostatic pressure.

This pressure is exacerbated when the soil around your home is clay-based and expansive. As a soil that doesn’t drain well, clay-based soils can become very heavy during wet seasons. This can cause the walls of a property to bow or crack (insert bowing walls link). This problem can be compounded by freezing when winter rolls around. 

  • Swelling of the Soil

When drain outlets discharge the water too close to the foundation, the soil around the foundation becomes soaked with water. The soil then swells to a state larger than it would be if it were dry. The amount of swelling may vary depending on the exact composition of the soil, but regardless of the soil type, it’s going to press on the foundation tremendously.

Other kinds of soil can erode in the face of heavy rainfall and intense saturation. Sandy and loam-based soils, for example, drain far better than clay-based soils, but they can be a little less stable. While expansive soils damage your foundation and walls with pressure, loose soils can leave your property without support and cause damage this way. 

  • Cyclical Problems

Some of the biggest problems come from the fact that this is a cyclical issue. Cracks from hydrostatic pressure or damaged window seals allow this water back inside the basement. Your sump pump will then pump it out to the gutter system, which just presses back up against the foundation, creating a circular cycle of water. This triggers many problems that can make your home uncomfortable or unsafe to live in.

The most obvious problems that come with recurring dampness in a property are mold and mildew formation. These can cause a musty smell in your home and attract pests like cockroaches, mold mites, and mice. If you have exposed wood in your home, you might even end up with wood rot forming in your property.

You might wonder whether you can just go in and DIY a fix for the issues with your gutters. While DIY fixes are great for several problems that you’ve probably experienced in and around your home, they’re typically not super useful for things that are as foundational as gutters. Here’s what you should know about passing on a DIY gutter fix.

  • Safety and Ease Problems

The first problem that arises with DIY fixes typically has to do with safety. That’s because repairing damaged gutters can certainly be difficult and unsafe without the proper equipment. If you’re looking for a way to make it safer for you to fix your gutters, you might want to consider the concept that you just don’t know much about fixing your home, which makes it much better to get an expert in to help.

After all, if you try to repair or replace your basement gutters alone, you run the risk of doing damage to the gutters or your property. More than this, there is the question of efficiency; even if you manage to install or repair the drains without causing damage, it’s unlikely that you will complete the work to the same standard as a professional. 

  • Getting an Expert to Help

The benefit of an expert is the fact that you don’t have to worry about problems arising because you don’t know how to fix the gutters. Professionals can repair any blockages or leaks in your gutters without a problem. A Groundworks expert can upgrade your gutters to the ultimate level with Interior Drain Systems, a below-ground drain network that subtly protects your home from water.

As well as providing a better product and a high-quality finish, a professional will make sure that any other issues they find are dealt with too. This means that you get a permanent, full fix the first time the issue is addressed. This ensures that the process is cost-effective as well as entirely efficient. The Groundworks team, for example, is well trained in spotting subtle signs of damage. 



Upgrade Your Basement Gutters with Groundworks

Unsure where to start when it comes to repairing ineffective gutters? Get in touch with our experts today for a free inspection and quote. They can provide you with top-grade solutions that can get your basement and its gutters back in working order. That’s paired with insight into the exact fixes your home needs to keep issues from developing in the future.



National Reputation, Local Expertise. Find your local Groundworks company.

search your zip code for a branch

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date: