The purpose of a gutter system is to channel water, preventing it from damaging your property’s foundation through floods or leaks.
A gutter system works by guiding water flow from your roof and into the downspouts responsible for dispensing water into the drainage system, away from your home.
That said, having debris or obstructions clogging your gutter can trigger a cascade of problems. This begs the question, can clogged gutters cause basement flooding?
The short answer is yes. Gutter clogs can lead to frustrating floods in your basement, especially during periods of heavy rain. It increases the probability of foundation failure, too.
Scroll through to learn more about gutter clogs, how it leads to basement flooding, and several tips to prevent this phenomenon.
Gutters can add a pleasant decorative appeal to your home, but these installations go beyond aesthetics.
Good gutter installations help deter water from the roof, preventing it from flowing directly into your home’s siding or the ground.
Here’s how they work:
Rainwater or melted snow flows from the roof into the gutter installation on your roof’s edges. Then, it flows through the gutter channels and drains to the downspout.
Downspouts usually connect to an underground drainage system a few feet from your home.
If you don’t have a gutter system, excess water splashes into your foundations or the ground, eventually seeping into your basement and causing frustrating floods.
Your basement is always prone to flooding, an upsetting problem that’s common during periods of heavy rain. It can lead to structural damage and costly repairs in the long run.
At the same time, basement flooding can occur due to other factors like water supply breaks, foundation cracks, drainage problems, and clogged gutters.
Let’s explore clogged gutter conditions that cause basement flooding:
If you have a gutter that’s been obstructed for quite some time, it can droop or weaken. And now that you have sagging gutters, water cannot flow into the gutter cavity seamlessly, so it tends to flow directly to the ground.
This phenomenon occurs because the collection of debris weighs the gutters down, so screws may come loose and the metal may break, making the gutter droop. Extreme winds can further aggravate the problem.
A gutter clogged with debris like old leaves, twigs, and dirt doesn’t allow water to flow freely into the cavities and down the pipe.
Thus, obstructed gutters can’t accommodate excess water during heavy downpours. As a result, water spills and doesn’t drain properly. That’s why it seeps into your basement instead.
Both clogged gutter conditions will also result in pitting around your home’s foundation. These trenches can foster mud, create a mess, or become a source of accidents.
Having nearby trees around your home is refreshing, except during fall when leaves start to fall and fill your gutters.
Leaves and twigs are the main obstructions that prevent your gutters from serving their purpose. Apart from leaves, you may also have windborne debris, like pieces of plastic, hanging around your gutter.
Besides leaves and trash, the moisture in your gutters also permits weeds to thrive. Sometimes, pesky animals build their nest or leave their nasty droppings on your gutters too.
So, if you’re not fond of regularly inspecting and cleaning out your gutters, you’ll likely encounter clogging problems once in a while.
On the other hand, here are more factors that cause your gutter to clog easily:
Gutters built around near-flat roofs may clog easily. Near-flat roofs tend to collect more debris than roofs with steeper slopes.
As a result, the debris and waste your roof collects will accumulate in your gutter in due course.
You should install gutters at a particular angle to allow for efficient drainage. If your gutter isn’t at a proper angle, water can’t flow at a desirable speed. That’s why it overflows and doesn’t drain freely into the pipe.
For that reason, the slope of gutters should be a quarter to half an inch per 10 feet of guttering.
Organic materials (like leaves and animal droppings) collected in your gutter will eventually decompose or undergo chemical changes.
Once these organic matters break down, they become gooey slime and sludge, clogging your gutter. The buildup of this mushy mass can be difficult to remove too.
Maintaining and cleaning your gutter can limit problems like basement flooding. Here are a few ways to prevent gutter blockage:
Cleaning your gutter at least twice a year or in fall and late spring is crucial in preventing debris and organic matter buildup.
Moreover, cleaning your gutter in the fall or before winter is vital since snow may accumulate on your roofs and gutters. That way, your gutter won’t suffer from the heaviness of debris and snow.
Meanwhile, you can opt for professional gutter-cleaning services or take matters into your hand. If you’re more on the DIY side, refer to our rough guide below for tips on how to clean your gutter properly.
Before anything else, your safety is more important than getting your gutters spic and span. So, it’s best to use gloves, non-slip shoes, or eye protection devices during the process.
Next, if you want to go through the tiresome process of climbing your roof and manually cleaning your gutters, avoid using a stepladder since it can tip easily.
That said, you may use an extension ladder instead. Mount it on a stable and leveled surface to avoid outbalancing.
On the other hand, cleaning your gutter from the ground is the safest method to get the job done. That is if your roof isn’t too out of reach.
You can use a garden hose or dry vacuum to clean your gutters from the ground up. You may consider using a rake, too.
However, you must be extra cautious, as aggressive tugging of the rake may damage your roof shingles.
Sometimes, water may flow freely in your gutter cavity but doesn’t drain through. When this happens, your downspout could be the source of the problem.
To unclog your downspout, you may detach it from the connecting drain and gently tap it to force clogs out. You may also use a pressurized garden hose or a plumbing snake to clear the debris.
If you frequently have basement flooding problems, inspect your gutter’s structural integrity. Assess if it’s time to replace your leaky, rusty, poorly attached gutters with new ones.
Pro tip: if you reside in a windy area, it’s best to install gutter straps to keep your gutters in place and prevent them from drooping.
On the contrary, if your gutter is doing just fine, you might want to check its sloping angle.
Trimming your tree branches or cleaning your roof before winter can help limit the number of leaves accumulating in your gutters.
If you want to skip all the cleaning, you should consider having gutter guard installations in your gutters.
Gutter guards act like nets that prevent debris, pine needles, and leaves from collecting in your gutter’s cavity. That way, water drains quickly, and you won’t have to deal with troublesome clogs.
Clogged gutters can cause basement flooding since water that doesn’t drain properly seeps into the ground and can leak into your basement.
Limiting the chances of basement floods goes back to properly cleaning and maintaining your gutters.
You should clean your gutters at least twice a year to clear debris that causes blockage. You may opt for gutter guard installations to save time and effort, too.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel