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Property Drainage

Most (if not all) moisture-related problems could become serious and expensive if not take care of quickly and completely. Here is some basic information for homeowners so that smart decisions and appropriate actions can be made to keep their homes dry and comfortable. In this article, we will focus on what the monitor for when it comes to roofs, gutters and downspouts and grading.

A rainstorm is perfect time to see how the roof, downspouts and grading are performing. When this system is not functioning as it should, water build up can occur and compromise the foundation and exterior protection of a home. A home inspector will inspect for proper water drainage systems at the time of an inspection, though it is important to monitor these systems as with all parts of your home, they will wear out, break down, deteriorate, leak or simply stop working.


Roofing materials can wear out, break, rust, blow off or otherwise fail and expose the roof deck and structural components beneath to moisture intrusion and damage.

  • The most common areas for roof leaks occur around a chimney, plumbing vent, exhaust fan or skylight. Possible cracks, fails and leaks can occur around flashings, sealant joints and intersection of roof surfaces.
  • Monitor for signs of a roof’s deterioration, such as cracking and curling. When having new roof shingles installed, it is best to remove the old layer otherwise is shortens the lifespan of the new shingles.
  • Flat and low-pitched roofs have unique maintenance needs as they are more susceptible to water problems as they don’t have the slope to encourage proper water drainage. It is important to ensure their roof drains and scuppers are remain clear from clogs.  A clogged drain can lead to water being collected on the roof, increasing the risk for a leak and even a possible collapsing of the roof due to the extra water weight.

Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters are designed to drain the water towards and through the downspouts, while the downspouts are to express the water away from a home’s foundation. Without sufficient overhang, water can drain directly to the ground without being collected at the roof’s edge. All gutters need to be kept clean. Regularly inspect your gutters and downspouts for:

Build up from shingle particles, vegetation, leaves, needles, dirt and debris compromises the function of gutters and can lead to water penetration of a home and its systems. Homes near mature trees are at a higher risk of debris from vegetation build up in gutter.  If there is a screen or similar device to prevent anything but water flowing into the gutter, its performance during rainstorm should be checked to be sure that water can actually enter the gutter. Basket strainers at the top of downspouts are helpful to prevent blockages

Gutters should slope uniformly, without sags, to downspouts. Inspect to ensure water travels through the gutter system and not overflowing on either side over-top of the gutter.  Inspect the gutters and downspouts to ensure that they are held secure with straps and that the joints are sealed through soldering or mastic, and are not experiencing water leaks. Rusted fasteners and missing hangers should be replaced.

As a rule of thumb, there should be at least one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter. Undersized or an insufficient number of downspouts can cause gutters to overflow and issues to arise. Make sure downspouts are long enough and directed to drain away from the foundation of the home. There should be attachments or straps at the top, bottom and at each intermediate joint. Often, they are designed to be moveable to allow for proper lawn maintenance, however, remember to place the downspout back down after lawn maintenance. For buildings with multiple roofs it is best practice to use downspouts pipes to discharge the water from upper gutters to lower gutters. Otherwise, the excess drainage of water will wear out your roofing material faster.  Occasionally, wooden gutters and downspouts are used, and they may be built into the roof eaves and concealed by roof fascias.  Wooden gutters are especially susceptible to rot and deterioration and should be monitored.


The ground around your house should slope away from all sides.  Otherwise water can pool beside your foundation and lead to damage, cracks and leaks.  Most are homes are unfortunately not waterproofed, they are merely water resistance, so the property drainage systems become import to ensure the longevity of the structure and health of a home.

When it comes to your current or new landscaping it is important to consider the grading and the effect changes may have on water flow surrounding your home.

Did you know?
Flower planters should not be adjacent to house’s exterior wall as the structure around the planting bed traps water.  It is best to avoid having water collect outside of foundation walls as they can lead to penetration, cracks and possible leaks.

If you are unsure about the function of your property’s drainage and would like a professional assessment and inspection, please do not hesitate to contact us at Bocc Home Inspections Ltd.
(403) 585-6279