The importance of proper drainage

Proper drainage around a foundation is essential to ensuring a dry basement. Ninety-nine percent of basements will develop leaks if the drainage of rain water and ground water is not managed. The components involved in rain water collection and drainage are:

  1. The roof and roof flashings,
  2. the roof gutters,
  3. the gutter downspouts and
  4. the drainage tile system.

The drainage tile system is underground and is therefore not inspected during a visual inspection. It is not uncommon for a home inspector to recommend further evaluation of the drainage tile system (by a qualified contractor) when there is evidence of problems above ground.

The drainage tile system is responsible for collecting rain water from the roof drainage and helping direct the ground water away from the foundation. If the drainage tile system is blocked this can allow hydrostatic pressure to build up against the foundation wall. This hydrostatic pressure is what forces the water to find the cracks in the foundation wall and eventually into the interior of your cherished basement. If you have water damage coverage in your insurance policy it should cover the damages to the interior elements but it won’t be able to replace family heirlooms or sentimental objects like photographs should they be damaged.

Changes to Insurance Policies

A recent article in “The Canadian Home Inspector” (Volume 18, Number 3- Fall 2013) quoted CBC News (Aug 29, 2013) as their source for the article stating that insurance companies consider water damage as a “major issue” for insurers whereas in the past where coverage was often added as an after-thought. The combination of changing weather patterns “causing rains to come on strong, sudden and dump extreme amounts of water” and the fact that “people are spending extreme amounts of money on their basements” has led to a huge increase in insurance claims. This increase will be offset by increases in insurance premiums.

For this reason, I recommend maintaining your homes’ drainage system.

Recommendations for Maintaining a Drainage System

An essential part of keeping your foundation and basement dry is performing the dreaded task of cleaning out the gutter and drains. While there aren’t many people who look forward to this particular chore, it is important to keep debris from getting into the underground portion of the drainage system. It is also recommended that you pay attention to the gutters and downspouts during periods of heavy rain to observe for leaks and blockages. Unclogging or repairing gutters and downspouts is far cheaper than unclogging or repairing the underground portion of the system.

How to clean gutters

In October or November (or whenever trees near your gutters are shedding their leaves in earnest), get out the ladder and clean the guttering. A word of caution regarding the use of ladders, “be sure to follow proper procedures and NEVER over extend or lean while on a ladder”.

Use a garden trowel or small shovel to scoop out the decaying leaves and wet muck that almost certainly is lining the gutters. Do not take a rubbish bag up with you to put the decaying leaves into. If you’re using a ladder, or standing on a step, adding extra bags is a sure way to increase your risk of over-balancing. Instead, simply stand a wheelbarrow near your ladder and toss the muck into it. It’s all ready then to wheel down to your garden compost bin. Finish off by flushing the pipes clean by using a hose with a spray nozzle.

How to unclog drains

Your drains can become blocked with debris anytime throughout the year and it is well worth walking around your home every month just to check that none of the drain covers has become clogged with leaves or rubbish. If they have, simply scoop all matter out, then follow with around 100ml of neat bleach down the drain.

Stonegate Home Inspections’ Services

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. offers a maintenance inspection for homeowners that do not have the time or perhaps the energy to check the components of their drainage tile system.



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