It’s the dog days of summer, and a young couple we know who recently moved into their first home wound up with a problem that is going to require a major expense that they just weren’t expecting.
No one expects problems from gutter clogs in the summer. (Typically, people clean their gutters in the late spring and fall.) But in a fierce summer thunderstorm, our young couple happened to notice water gushing from a downspout that drained directly into a storm drain.
Several days later, their young children said that their basement playroom smelled funny and they didn’t want to play there anymore. The playroom was still filled with boxes from the recent move, so it wasn’t immediately clear where the smell was coming from. The parents diligently started going through the boxes thinking there was something in them that was causing the smell, but–you’ve guessed it–that wasn’t the problem.
The clogged underground drain was at fault and the rain that couldn’t get through was backing up and bursting through the pipe, causing water to seep in through the foundation of their basement playroom.
Back in the basement, the bottom boxes were in ruins. The carpet was soaked to the core and mold had started to form on the carpet under the boxes. The problem had obviously been developing over the course of weeks, likely every time it rained. Even worse than the water damage was the parents’ worry that their young children might been breathing in potentially dangerous mold spores.
Underground drains often clog when gutter debris gets lodged in them. These new homeowners now have the costly task of hiring a professional to deal with the drainage problem outside and the water in their basement inside (in the mean time, they’ve disconnected the downspouts from the underground drains and bought downspout extensions to get the water at least four feet from their foundation.)
Their gutters were unprotected. Obviously, over time, debris had been flowing down into the drains. They were a ticking time bomb ready to go off at any moment. In this case, since the problem was hidden underground in the drainage pipe, it wasn’t caught by the inspector; the problem didn’t exist beforehand.
A micro mesh gutter guard could have prevented the problem in the first place. Since it would only allow debris through smaller than 50 microns, nothing could have gotten in the underground drain from that point forward that could have caused the drain to clog.
Sadly, this couple will now have to spend thousands of dollars to remedy a problem they just weren’t prepared to have. A properly installed gutter guard might have run about 20% of the outlay. Needless to say, as this couple moves forward to fix the issues with their home, they’ll be adding gutter protection so that they never have to deal with another problem on this scale again.