Any idea how much rain falls on your roof during a typical downpour?
Most people would be surprised to know how much water lands up on their roof when it rains. In a steady downpour totalling 1″ of rain, hundreds of gallons of rain will be hitting your shingles. It has been estimated that for every 1000 sq ft of roof area, around 600 gallons of rain will arrive on your roof.
As the average suburban home usually has a roof area of around 1.500 sq ft, that means around 900 gallons of rain will be pouring down onto your roof in a fairly short space of time. That’s a lot of water for it to handle!
So where does all that water go?
Your roof is architecturally designed to handle virtually anything that the elements can throw at it. That’s why roofs are pitched or slanted, so that they slope at a sufficient angle to allow the rain to flow efficiently downwards into your gutters, and out through the downspouts.
The roofing shingles are also installed so that they overlap, with the higher ones lying over the top edges of the ones below. This prevents the water run-off from finding its way under them, but all roofing materials are subject to expansion and contraction, resulting in cracks and splits developing over the course of many years. The effect of sun, wind and rain will inevitably take it’s toll over the passage of years, which is why it is so very important to have a good contractor inspect your roof from time to time, to assess any maintenance that may be necessary.
The vital job that your gutters are doing to protect your home
From ground level it’s impossible to even guess what’s in your gutters. The wind and weather is moving dust, leaves and other debris through the air, and this material is constantly finding its way onto your roof. Every time it rains, this debris gets washed down into your gutter system, but not all of it will find its way through the downspouts. Over time it will inevitably start to clog your gutters and downspouts, and the water will start to dam and backup with every rain.
Why can’t I trace where the leaks are coming from?
Water can be tricky. When the water in a blocked gutter builds up until it starts overflowing, one would expect it to flow over the edges of the gutters and down to the ground below. Often though, some of it may find its way under the eaves and into the walls of the house, percolating through fine hair cracks in the plaster and brickwork, and ending up in the most unlikely places! It takes an expert waterproofing technician to trace the source of many leaks that seem to have no obvious source, and yet are ruining your home.
Water always takes the path of least resistance
Water will tend to take the path of least resistance, which means that it doesn’t have to force its way into your home, it simply finds its way in through a weak spot and may end up travelling along fine fissures and cracks, until it comes out far away from the original point of entry.
At the end of the day, gravity will lead it downwards, and over time, seepage may appear right down in your basement from water that has originated way up in the roof.
What’s going on at ground level?
Assuming that your roof, gutters and downspouts are all nicely maintained and functioning efficiently, that means that all that rain water is now down on the ground outside your house, but it may not remain there!
The soil will naturally soak up the rain and it will seep down into the natural water table, but if the fall off is too close to your foundations, the ground right next to your home may become so saturated that the water starts too find its way laterally through tiny cracks and imperfections, into your foundations and from there into your basement.
So how do I prevent ground water from entering my home?
Some important steps to take are to:
• Ensure that downspouts discharge at least 10 feet away from your foundations.
• Make sure that the lawns slope away from your walls to lead any water that may fall there, away from the house.
• Don’t plant flower beds up against your walls.
• Any paved areas adjacent to your foundations and walls should be sloped away from the house
Whenever in doubt, call in an expert waterproofing contractor and keep your home, dry, comfortable and healthy. Prevention is always better than cure!