Eavestroughs and Downspouts
On any property, the first point of defence in dealing effectively with rapid snowmelt or a rainstorm are the eavestroughs and downspouts. Just 10 mm (0.4 inches) of rain on the roof of an average sized bungalow generates 1,200 litres of runoff. Catching water from the roof and directing it away from the walls of the house are critical factors in keeping your basement dry. Eavestroughs, also known as rain gutters, are located directly below the roofline of your home. Eavestroughs catch roof runoff and channel it to downspouts that are normally located at the bottom corners of the roof.
The standard residential eavestrough or downspout is four or five inches wide. They are made of plastic or aluminium, but plastic is more commonly used because it is sturdier and easier to work with. They come in one standard length, but can be easily cut to the desired size. Elbows, end caps, Ts, and straight connectors are all precast so any roof size or shape can be accommodated.
Eavestroughs and downspouts should be cleaned regularly of leaves and debris so water flow is not blocked. Special hard mesh screens can be purchased to sit on top of eavestroughs to prevent leaves and large objects from entering. You can test the effectiveness of your eavestroughs by pouring water at the end furthest away from the downspout. If water leaks out or pools at any point you need to clean, repair or replace it.
Eavestroughs should direct water on a gentle slope down towards the downspout. Use a level inside the eavestrough to check that the downhill grade is consistent from one end of the eavestrough to the downspout. Sometimes a sagging eavestrough can be repositioned to prevent pooling and re-establish the grade. If it cannot be repositioned, replace it.
Eavestrough leaks typically occur at joints. Fortunately, they can be repaired quickly and easily with silicone. Silicone comes in a tube and is usually clear or white. Once dry, it is water resistant and stands up well to extreme temperatures. When repairing a leak, do it from the inside of the eavestrough. Make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying the silicone.
The eavestrough should be replaced if the leak is from a large hole or crack. When replacing an eavestrough or downspout, make sure to seal all connector joints and end caps with silicone.
Downspouts are hollow pipes that take water from the eavestrough and channel it to the ground. Ideally, the downspout should end in an elbow and extension that directs the water from the house and towards the street or back lane. In Slave Lake, the downspout extension pipe must be located on a grassed area to ensure the water is being discharged and absorbed within your property. Please ensure the downspout extension pipe is not located or directing water onto your neighbour’s property.
Professionals use downspout material for extensions because it is durable and very effective in channelling water away quickly. Leave the extension down all of the time or put it down whenever rain is forecast. An alternative to hard downspout material is a soft plastic extension. This type of extension rolls out when it rains and can be purchased at home improvement stores. Any extension should be checked regularly for leaks and to ensure that it is functioning properly. Some side yards are too narrow to allow for a long downspout extension. In these cases, splash pads should be used. Standard splash pads are two feet long, are made of concrete or plastic, and slope away from the wall. The downspout ends within a few inches of the splash pad, which in turn directs the water away from the foundation of the house.
Downspout extensions or splash pads should never be removed. They protect you from a number of potential problems. Water along the basement walls of your house can seep through tiny cracks and cause a damp, clammy basement. Left unchecked, this seepage can eventually damage the foundation of your house.
Water that seeps down your basement walls and into your weeping tile can overload the sanitary sewer system, causing a sewer backup. It may create extra work for your sump pump, if you have one, and could cause pump failure under severe conditions.