Getting water in your crawlspace?
Sometimes you may find that after a rain, you’ve got water in your crawlspace. It’s a common problem around these parts and there are many scenarios that will result in just this type of thing. Our approach is to rule out the simple solution first. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to maybe solve some of your water problems. Check your gutters and downspouts. Most people have no idea how much water a roof collects during a rain event. If your gutter system isn’t working properly, all of that water is being dumped at your foundation. Walk around your house and take a good look at your gutters and downspouts. If you have the opportunity, observe how the water moves through this system during a good rain.
• First and foremost: KEEP YOUR GUTTERS CLEAN!!!
• Are your gutters pitched correctly? If not, have the gutters adjusted.
• Do you notice any leaks at seams? Gutters are notorious for leaking at seams and corners. This constant drip over time leads to big water issues down the road. If there is leaking, have it repaired asap.
• Do you have any roof valleys? These areas are usually clogged with tree debris. This debris affects the way the water moves off of your roof. Keep your valleys clean. OK, now that you have them clean, problem number 2 arises. Water accumulation in a roof valley tends to move quickly. This accelerated amount of water is now rushing towards your gutter, hitting the gutter with considerable force…causing a lot of splash-back and overflow. This coupled with already leaking corner seams creates a big water issue below. Again, make sure all of your seams are sealed to stop the leaking. To curb the overflow, make sure you have divertors in place. Divertors are attached to the top of the gutter that extends the height of the gutter wall so that water will not “jump” the gutter in problem areas.
• Are your gutters in good shape? Tree limbs can damage gutters and create low spots where water will accumulate and overflow in a heavy rain. Damaged gutters should be replaced if causing a problem.
• Notice any rust? Replace rusted components.
• Depending on how old your gutters are or what style of gutter you have…you may want to consider replacing your gutter system with a new larger capacity system. You’ll be glad you did.
• Do you have a gutter helmet on your gutter system? Keep a close eye on your gutters if you do. The gutter helmet relies on water to wrap around the edge of the “helmet” (cohesion of water and the adhesion to the surface the water is traveling on) and then drop into the gutter. On a steeply pitched roof during a heavy rain, it is just not possible for all of the water rapidly moving off of a roof to make it’s way into the gutter. Water will overwhelm the system and “jump” the gutter to the ground below. Gutter guards are great for gentle rains but not for downpours. Please consider the pros and cons before installing on your home.
• Do you have 3″ or 4″ downspouts? If you have 3″, you should consider upgrading to 4″ because they can handle more water.
• Are your downspouts extended away from the foundation? This is a simple solution to help keep water away from the house. Downspout extensions can be purchased at your local hardware store. Some of them come ready to use and will accordion out to give you up to around 55″ of length to get water away from your house. Sometimes you even get a choice of color! Here are some considerations when installing downspout extensions:
-The extensions must get the water far enough away from the house to a point where gravity can take over. (That means that you have gotten the water to a slope away from the house. Remember, water doesn’t run uphill!). Sometimes the pre-made extensions just aren’t long enough. You then have to create your own downspout extension. You can buy 10′ sections of black HDPE solid 4″ corrugated pipe or in extreme situations, 100′ rolls of the stuff. In the section where you buy the corrugated piping, you will also find couplings to attach 2 lengths of pipe together and adapters for the end of the pipe that make the pipe fit better to a downspout. Make sure that you use gutter screws to firmly secure all of you connections. The pipe must be solid not perforated (as in, no holes in the pipe). HDPE should be considered for above ground use only.
Pro-Tip: Do not use the HDPE corrugated piping for underground applications. This pipe is prone to failure once it goes in the ground. Aggressive root systems will bust through the pipe looking for water. The pipe is also prone to crushing and the ribbed inner lining of the pipe gives debris more opportunities to grab hold and clog the pipe. If you decide to take on the task of installing underground downspout drainage yourself, use solid PVC pipe. You’ll be glad you did.
If you are still having water problems after giving your gutter system the once over, better call us. Sounds like your issues may be the result of something that requires a little more expertise.
Some examples of bad drainage practices:
Rain barrels. We are not huge fans of them to begin with. We have found that although the installers have good intentions, they are rarely used and end up overflowing and creating a mess in your crawlspace. The scenario pictured above poses a new problem in that the homeowners didn’t really even get the downspout into the barrel…and you can see from the picture how much this rain barrel is used anyway. The top has become a planter box. This downspout extension is actually channeling water right to the foundation. The picture on the far right is what is starting to happen in the crawlspace.
Perforated HDPE pipe used for downspout drainage is one of our pet peeves. A lot of water enters the pipe and a lot of water exits the pipe on the way to the outlet (which we never found in this particular instance by the way). The picture on the right is directly on the other side of the foundation wall. It looks as though this particular drain pipe doesn’t necessarily need an outlet point because most of the water is gone before it ever gets there.