Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Close but no cigar---but still too close!

Home inspectors routinely call out the termination of downspouts right at the house foundation.  Concentrated quantities of water at spot locations around the foundation can result in water intrusion into basements and crawl spaces as well as cause settlement of the foundation. 

Ideally proper drains should be installed to collect the roof water and drain it properly away from the home.  These drains are called tight-line drains and are typically separate from footing drains—or at least should be.  Lots of debris can end up going into roof water drains and we don’t want to clog up the footing drains with leaves and other debris.

Most jurisdictions also do not allow them to terminate into the city sewer either.  However, in lots of older cities everything goes into a common sewer, which obviously affects sewage treatment costs.

I could not help but chuckle at a recent inspection when I saw someone’s attempt to get the roof water away from the foundation….


….only to end up dumping at another location right next to the foundation.

Is it the thought that counts?

I think not.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 13 commentsCharles Buell • December 16 2013 05:12AM


Hi Charles,

At least they were trying something. Around here there is very little in the way of gutters.

Have a great day in Seattle my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

I have seen similar, but the grading of the ground was severely away from the house and the surface evidence showed it worked

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 5 years ago

Nice try, but.... Often around here on older houses the downspouts have been removed from the in ground drains. Typically due to water / moisture issues in the basement and or they are simply clogged. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Clint, on the other hand you have very little in the way of rain

Ed, as long as their is good drainage.

Jim, I think houses that use a common footing drain with the roof drains are especially problematic--but good if you want a wet basement

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Oh my that is pretty stupid huh.....I would have a hard time "holding back" LOL

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 5 years ago

Oh boy - why bother? That makes no sense what-so-ever. You must stifle laughter on a regular basis Charles.

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 5 years ago

Hi Charles - That's always a major inspection item here. With expanisve caly soils common in the area, water and foundations are a bad mix.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 5 years ago

That's not exactly a creative solution.  It's obvious where the water would go.  Geez!

Posted by Bryan Robertson over 5 years ago

Kristin, it struck me as a bit funny too.

Debb, all the time---sometimes more sucessfully than other times

Dick, I can only imagine.  Expansive soils can be problematic even under the best of conditions

Bryan, it seemed counter-productive to me

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Charles - As Maxwell Smart used to say, "Missed it by that much."

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor. (Century 21 M&M - 209-404-0816) over 5 years ago

That's ridiculous.  Of course I recommend that the downspout be extended far enough away from the house to affect the neighbor next door.  Preferably draining into their basement window well.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

You have to wonder what (or IF) they were thinking......great catch!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 5 years ago

Jim, exactly

Jay, well that certainly works---becomes a "water feature" of undetermined value in the neighbor's home too

Barbara-Jo---it was kind of just point to me

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago