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Are Downspout Extensions the Answer to a Dry Basement or Crawl Space?

Monday, May 20th by Kristina McGovern


The RainChute downspout extension diverts rainwater away from the foundation

The RainChute downspout extension collects rainwater from the roof and diverts it away from the home.

Rain gutters and downspouts are designed to collect rainwater from the roof to keep it from damaging the roof, siding, foundation, and landscaping. But without proper sloping around the home, the water pools around the foundation instead of draining away. Pooling water around the home can cause soil erosion, foundation cracks, and flooding in the basement or crawl space.

Downspout extensions are a great way to keep a lot of water away from the foundation of the house. But will they keep the basement dry?

What are gutter extensions?

Gutter extensions, also called downspout extensions, are attachments that are placed on the end of the downspout to channel rainwater away from the foundation of the home.

Are downspout extensions necessary?

To answer this question, we need to quickly look at how a house is built and how a drainage system is typically installed.

A hole is dug in the virgin hard-packed earth. The foundation of the home is built. A drain tile or French drain (a plastic pipe) system is laid around the foundation (mostly in all newer builds) to drain rainwater away from the home. Then the loose soil is backfilled around the foundation. This loose soil will easily drain water down to the foundation. If the drain tile clogs with mud, it will fail and the basement will get wet. That’s why a basement can be dry for 20 years, and then one day, after heavy rain, it gets wet.

What about water that doesn’t come from the downspouts?

So the basement leaks and we extended the downspouts, will this solve the problem? What about all the rainwater that comes down around the house? That water is not addressed by downspouts. And if there’s a wind blowing rain directly at the walls, this water runs directly down the side of the house.

To supplement this we install a drain tile or French drain system just like the one that originally failed. Is this the correct solution? And what about if we install it not around the base of the foundation but shallowly, at only a couple feet deep. Is this going to catch all the water and drain it away?

When gutter extensions aren't enough

TripleSafe sump pump installed in a basement

A quality sump pump with a battery backup is a long-term solution for a dry basement or crawl space.

At Basement Systems, we always ask the homeowner if they want their basement dry ALL of the time. Why? Because any of these partial solutions will only make a basement drier, not dry.

So, will extending the downspouts help? Yes. And you should absolutely extend the downspouts away from the home. But they are rarely the only solution needed to solve a water problem in the basement or crawl space.

Basement Systems carries two types of RainChute downspout extensions as well as a cover for an underground downspout extension to help address drainage issues as part of a complete waterproofing solution.

For homes that need additional drainage control, Basement Systems offers sump pumps, drainage systems, and other waterproofing products all designed to keep the basement or crawl space dry all the time.

Contact your local Basement Systems dealer to schedule a free on-site drainage evaluation and cost estimate.

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