Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Check Those Drains and Gutters

Around the Chicago area this summer we’ve experienced every kind of weather possible. We started out in late spring and early summer with more rain than usual. We didn’t need to water at all early this year! Then we had some weeks with temperate weather and normal rain. Around the 4
th of July, the heat waves really started; with rainy days few and far between, which continued through much of July. August has had better temperatures, with a few extreme rains. With this kind of weather, it’s a good idea to check around the outside of your house to make sure the drainage systems are all working well.

The first defense for keeping water away from the house is the gutter system. When rains are infrequent in the summer, debris like leaves, stems, and dirt accumulate as they’re not washed out by heavier rains. If you are able, climb up on a ladder and inspect them, then clean as necessary. If you are even slightly apprehensive about ladders and heights, always hire a professional. Depending on the style of your house, you may be able to inspect the gutters by looking out the second floor windows. We can pour buckets of water out of our bedroom windows to wash down our gutters. Give the downspouts a good rap. You might be able to dislodge clogs in the downspouts. Try doing this when it’s raining hard. You should see the debris wash out on the lawn. Make sure the water coming from the downspouts does not work its way back towards the house. Extend the downspout as necessary; we have extended our back downspout all the way to the alley. This keeps a lot of water out of the back yard and away from the foundation. Our home is in the middle of the block and we seem to be the lowest, so diverting as much water as possible is beneficial.

Next, inspect around the foundation. Is water is collecting anywhere? Maybe there are plantings too close to the house; which can cause moisture build-up. Again, it’s helpful to check either during or immediately after a big rain. All water should run away from the foundation. Drains are an important way to remove water, but they must work. Even if a drain looks clear, it may not be free flowing. Especially if there are fewer rains, these drains can clog with leaves and other debris. Remove the drain cover and hose out to wash down the clog. If this doesn’t work, use a  piece of pliable, stiff wire. Along with the hose, this should take care of any clog.