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For the homeowner, nearly nothing is as bad of a problem as is undertaking a foundation repair project. Foundation repair is costly. It is time consuming and it is messy work. More often than not, foundation repairs could have been mitigated if proper gutter maintenance was used. This is especially true during the winter months. Here is why it is important to maintain your gutters in winter.
When snow falls and lands on the roof, it accumulates. Depending on the area you live in, there up to a foot of snow, or more, can end up accumulating before temperatures climb above freezing. That roof snow acts as a huge reservoir of water. In addition, snow accumulates inside the gutters. When the weather gets above freezing the snow quickly converts into ice and water. That water needs a quick route of exit. If your gutters have not been cleaned or maintained or if an ice dam has been created, the water is going to flow over it and onto the ground surrounding the house. The ground around your house is already going to be saturated. Adding more water so near the foundation is inevitably going to create seepage. This seepage is what is, ultimately, going to wreck your foundation.
The first signs of infiltration will be in the form of moisture in the basement. This may be accompanied by the smell of mold. If the problem is not remedied, it will get worse. As the freeze/thaw cycle of winter and summer goes on, cracks and visible seepage into the basement may occur. Ultimately, these cracks become larger. This leads to a general weakening of structural integrity and potential structural failure.
All this could have been prevented if you had maintained your gutters in winter. Here are some tips to help you avoid this nightmare scenario. Make sure the downspouts drain at least 10 to 15 feet from the residence. Doing so will help to mitigate liquid infiltration, as it is channeled away at a safe distance.
Use long lasting materials. When people look at the cost of roof products, they need to look both at the price and its longevity. The longer the product lasts, the longer the period of time the cost can be amortized. In my experience, cheap products lead to more, sudden, failures than ones built with heavy duty ingredients.
If you do not like the idea of having to regularly maintain your downspout system, get a solution that uses covered gutters. You will not have to worry as much about debris and ice dams. They cost more. So, you will need to determine if the additional amount of money is worth the time savings.
Finally, make sure there is an adequate ground slope away from the residence. If there isn’t, you will have a much higher risk of pooling and, ultimately basement infiltration. A cubic yard of dirt will vary from region to region of the United States. The cost of fixing the damage as a result of inaction will be a high multiple of this price.