Water Falls

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

cascadeWater falls have an almost magnetic attraction. The sound of rushing, cascading water is soothing, compelling. Nature's white noise. It's similar with the sound of the surf, a babbling brook or a summer rain, the sound of moving water is calming.

Water can also be said to either be destructive or constructive depending on your view. Erosion shapes new landscapes, while simultaneously destroying the current surroundings. So it is that houses are built to manage water and the force it exerts on the humble home. Drainage systems are the basic element built into houses to alleviate waters inexorable power. Yet like any system, it is only as good as the installation.

DownspoutThe basic and most obvious component of the house's drainage system is the gutters and downspouts. Also quite arguably one of the more neglected. The gutters are there to capture the water that falls on the entire roof area. The downspouts channel the water to the ground and are supposed to send that water away from the foundation. Often water infiltration issues in the basement or crawl space can be due, entirely or in part, to downspouts placed against or very near the foundation. In a few instances, foundation damage can occur, particularly over time.

During a recent home inspection, the power of misdirected water was very clearly demonstrated.

Step crackingAt the exterior front corner of the masonry block constructed garage, I found the downspout for the gutter buried into the concrete for the steps along the side of the garage. Buried downspouts are common. The water is sent into a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel to be dissipated throughout the ground and most importantly away from the house foundation.

Apparent right off was settling of the driveway and concrete block in the immediate area of the downspout. Looking at the wall, a top to bottom step crack was present in the wall on which the stairs run. The crack can be seen just below the blue shovel, running down to the right.

What is occurring is erosion to the soil below the front and side walls. The walls are essentially levering downwards causing the cracking. This condition would likely indicate the downspout has simply been buried into the concrete step without a pipe sending the water away from the foundation. I classify this as a progressive failure. Eventually, and this will take many years, the wall will fail.Cracking

While the sound of cascading water is soothing, it is also patiently doing its work of reshaping the landscape...

 

including wearing away at our homes. 

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Ambassador
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Ah!  The mystery of the Grand Canyon is solved.

Fact is, home owners rarely understand that management of moving water is critical to home maintenance.

Oct 29, 2014 10:08 PM #1
Rainmaker
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Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

The sound of water no matter how big or small the current helps the video light up, make the ears catch fire and the eyes to follow suit if all the water is left running in the presentation. But keep it out of the cellar and don't let it race and cause erosion to hurt the resource or end up flooding out your furnace. Herd it like cats. Be a good steward.

Oct 29, 2014 10:15 PM #2
Rainmaker
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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Great explanation of how water can effect the building and where this shows up James.

Oct 30, 2014 12:19 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I thought Christopher Cross had it right when he suggested that sailing would take him away to where he was going.

And now, now I find out, that isn't true.

What beats water, pressure and time?  Ask the Grand Canyon.

Oct 30, 2014 07:43 PM #4
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Lenn, Agreed, most homeowners are unaware of the power their downspouts have on their foundation.

Andrew, Herding cats is tough 

Tom, Thanks. Something I'm sure you're very familiar with. 

Jay, Water has nothing but time and patience. 

Oct 30, 2014 10:08 PM #5
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
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CMU make pretty decent "hydrostatic pressure indicators" :)

Oct 31, 2014 12:21 AM #6
Rainmaker
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Will Nesbitt
Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria - Alexandria, VA
Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage.

Contact James Quarello at (203) 697-1147 for a  Connecticut Home Inspector.

Oct 31, 2014 01:05 AM #7
Rainmaker
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Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, Water given enough time ill take a mountain down, that garage is no problem ;)

Oct 31, 2014 10:49 AM #8
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie, Yes they do.

Will, Thanks for stopping by.

Don, Yep. And all it hasis time. 

Nov 01, 2014 08:09 PM #9
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TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good evening James. Because we are about 70% water, may have something to do with why we love waterfalls. - Nah! I have an artificial waterfall in my back yard. The sound of falling water is relaxing.

Nov 05, 2014 06:30 AM #10
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Michael, Water features are so captivating. Would like to add one to my yard.

Nov 06, 2014 05:36 AM #11
Rainmaker
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Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Good morning James. Great job explaining how water effects a structure. Certainly beautiful the see water, but in an around the home.

Nov 12, 2014 10:06 PM #12
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Thanks Joe. I'll take my water falls away from the house too :)

Nov 12, 2014 10:26 PM #13
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