Clean Gutters Keep Basements Dry
LESLIE: Rose in Jamaica, Queens listens to The Money Pit on WABC. How can we help you in your money pit?
ROSE: About three years ago I installed a new gutter and leader system.
ROSE: It’s called Lifeguard.
ROSE: And there’s supposed to be a lifetime warranty and it never worked from day one. I’ve had the installer come several times. He’s very nice. But the system does not absorb rainwater. And my basement is completely ruined. I want to know what does lifetime warranty mean.
TOM: Well, you would think that it means that you’re never going to have to replace those gutters again but clearly what you have there is not working for you and it sounds to me like this company needs to make good on it. If I had my druthers, I would want it removed and replaced with a good old-fashioned standard gutter system, which is going to work fine. I’m sure you probably installed this so you wouldn’t have to clean the gutters.
ROSE: I had a beauty and I was coerced into taking this new thing (inaudible). It’s my fault.
TOM: Well, you know, listen. You make the best decisions based on the available information. You know, I’m sure that you wanted a system that wasn’t going to require maintenance. But clearly, you’re getting a lot of ancillary damage from having the system that you have now. So our recommendation would be to remove and to replace it because the most important thing here is to get this water under control. Your problem’s going to get a lot more expensive than the cost of replacing the gutter system if you allow – continue to allow the basement to be saturated. You have hit the nail on the head. That water landing right around the foundation has nowhere to go but into the basement and a standard four-inch K-style gutter system – a standard extruded gutter system that will cost you all of probably, I don’t know, $2 or $3 a linear foot to have installed – is going to collect that water and run it away. You want to make sure the downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the foundation.
And if you want to use any type of gutter guard system at all, you can use that kind that’s removable so that it can be cleaned. We have one on our house in New Jersey that – I think it was called the Gutter Guard WaterFall System. And basically, it’s a louver that snaps into the top of the gutter and it lets most of the water wash over. Except I will tell you, with those louvered systems, with a really, really heavy water – rainfall – you get so much centrifugal force from the water that it does fall over the edge. We haven’t had any basement issues but I’ll tell you, having no guard is probably more important than making sure the gutters are functional in the first place. So I wouldn’t concentrate too much on the guard. I would concentrate on getting the gutters working, Rose, so that you get that basement dry. Because that’s the only way you’re going to avoid a continuing moisture and potentially a dangerous mold problem in the basement.
LESLIE: You know, that’s really sad that that happened to her because a lot of times, especially in Queens in New York, a lot of the homes are sort of set up on a small hill and then that sort of goes down out to the street. So when the downspouts come down they might bury them into that hill system to then come directly out to the street or to the concrete sidewalk. And perhaps what’s happened is something’s not even connected properly or that buried pipe is so clogged and was ignored when the new downspout was hooked up to it that there could be a leak in there, you know, in addition to the gutters not working at all.
TOM: Well, the gutter is really, truly a system and it really has to work from the roof edge right out to the discharge. So certainly if you’re ever running your downspouts into a pipe that runs underground you need to make sure it’s free flowing. If it’s not you could have it snaked out and if you really don’t know what’s there – you know, these drain cleaning companies have cameras that can run down there and I’ve seen those cameras really identify major cracks in those pipes as well. So all of those things plug into the possibility of a gutter system not working right and causing your basement to leak and it all has to be addressed.
So, sorry that happened to you, Rose. But, really, at this point, I would give up on the so-called Lifetime system that’s not working for you and just get a standard set of gutters and get that water away from the house.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.