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  • Writer's pictureEngineer Mike

Gutter Drainage Problems and How to Fix Them

Updated: Nov 21, 2023


Gutters are an essential part of the building envelope because they divert roof water away from the foundation.


Gutters, downspouts, and extensions on a townhome.
Gutters, downspouts, and extensions are important components of a roof drainage system.


If gutter systems are not maintained well or are damaged, roof water can seep into the foundation backfill and affect the foundation's soil and structural stability. Some soil types are sensitive to water.





Chapter 29 (Section P2912.5) of the International Residential Code (IRC) applies to roof drainage and gutters.


 

Common Gutter Conditions


Gutters, downspouts, extensions, and discharge points need continuous maintenance and must be repaired if damaged.


 

1. Disconnected Gutter Components


Gutter with disconnected downspout.
Without downspouts or extensions, water is released at the foundation's edge and seeps into the soil. Solution: Re-connect all gutter system components.

 

2. Damaged Gutter Downspouts


Crushed gutter downspout extension.
Damaged gutter downspouts can be caused by wind, vehicles, or the general lack of maintenance. Solution: Replace damaged gutter system components.

 

3. Upright Gutter Extensions


Gutter downspout extension tilted up.
Upright gutter extensions allow water to discharge along the foundation's edge. Solution: Always keep gutter extensions rotated downward.

 


 

4. Barriers to Flow: Sidewalks


Roof gutter downspout extensions directed to edge of sidewalk.
Water builds up behind the edges of sidewalks and seeps into the ground instead of flowing away from the foundation. Solution: Install sidewalk chase or install below-ground pipe to drain downspouts.

 

5. Barriers to Flow: Non-Perforated Lawn Edging


Roof gutter downspout extension directed to lawn edging.
Water builds up behind the edges of sidewalks and seeps into the ground instead of flowing away from the foundation. Solution: Install sidewalk chase or install below-ground pipe to drain downspouts.

 

6. Barriers to Flow: Curbs


Roof gutter downspout extension directed to concrete curb.
Curbs block water from properly flowing away from the foundation. Solution: Provide an opening in the curb for water to flow through, or re-route the gutter extension.

 


 

7. Discharge Near Retaining Walls


Roof gutter downspout extensions directed to base of SRW masonry block retaining wall.
Water must be routed away from retaining walls. Solution: Re-route the gutter extensions away from the retaining wall using either above-ground or below-ground extensions.

 

8. Discharge to Low Spots Around the Foundation


Flat swale with standing water at drainage low spots between buildings.
Water must adequately flow away from the foundation. Solution: Fix grading and/or provide buried gutter extensions to re-route the water.

 

I hope this information was helpful to you. For additional topics related to construction defects, go to SiteDamage.com.


Visit my photo collections page, which has examples of damage that can be due to construction defects.  





Mike

Engineer Mike





 

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