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View Full Version : Dirty / Clogged Gutters Can Cause Patio to Sink


DVS Hardscaper
08-19-2009, 06:59 PM
I'm more or less initiating this topic to share an experience, not really lookin for feedback or advice :)

We have a paver patio that we installed 7 years ago this coming November.

We have since returned 3 times to fix areas with settlement. Today I was presenting a proposal to their neighbor who is friends with these people and the Mrs was there and asked if I could look at the patio because they have settlement again.

The exact same areas have settled. This will make the 4th time we've fixed it....for FREE. We have been building patios for 13 years and have NEVER had to go back this many times to correct settlement.

I have always thought it was the over-dig setteling.

Well, they have a nice covered porch that is over 33% of the patio. None of the pavers, including the block steps under the covered porch have settled. What has been setteling has been the pavers that are not under roof.

They have mature, large oak trees right next to the patio.

I am certain that what is happening is their rain gutters / down spouts get clogged, water runs over the side of the gutters, spilling down onto the patio.

The home owner asked me "why is this happening?" I looked at his oaks, then looked at his gutters and I said "I have a feeling the gutters and down spouts are clogging. He replied "I have them cleaned twice a year". I do not doubt that, but being I live on a wooded lot I know I have to clean my gutters no fewer than 3 times annually, and usually I don't do it till the water spills over the sides.

On another corner they guy has 4", solid, black flex drain tubing connected to a down spout. Here we have settlement as well. I am thinking the flex drain tubing has debris clogged in it and water is not flowing correctly.

We're going to spend about 6 or so hrs fixing this patio for the 4th time. And I'm not going to charge the people. But I am now going to have to find a way to have a nice chat with them about their gutters, as well as explain that I've been a good sport about fixing the patio and that this is the final fix done for free.

Yeah, we contractors could place a clause in our warranty about clogged / dirty rain gutters. But then we'd have to prove clogged / dirty gutters cause the patio to sink. Meaning, the home owners would probably clean the gutters before calling us contractors out to fix the sinking.

If you get repeat calls to fix a patio you built, be sure to check if the gutters and down spouts are suseptible to cloggage.

Does anyone here have a clause about clogged gutters / settlement inflicted by excessive water?

We did another patio and had all lthe water sheeting off perfectly. Well, the homeowner had another landscape company come in and do planting. They placed raised beds right where we had water draining from the patio! thus, the patio became a pond when it rained! they wanted us to fix it. I told them "the only fix is for us to remove the raised bed that some idiot placed along your patio".



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STL Ponds and Waterfalls
08-19-2009, 07:25 PM
How is the drains and gutters creating settlement? Isn't it the same as a nice hardcore rain?

DVS Hardscaper
08-19-2009, 07:29 PM
How is the drains and gutters creating settlement? Isn't it the same as a nice hardcore rain?

No, not the same. Watch clogged gutters in a hardcore rain and you'll see water gushes down to one concentrated spot.

SOUTHERNGREENSCAPES
08-19-2009, 08:19 PM
do you have Poly Sand in the joints? if so, i don't see how the water from the gutters would be making its way into the situation. Does the house have foundation drains across the front of the house? I recently was working on a back yard walkway and the homes foundation drains were clogged allowing all the accumulated water along the front foundation to go under the concrete pad in the garage and come out where we were walking. we did a 3ft over dig in that area and after we compacted all the way up with ABC and finished the patio, we went back into put the fence post back in right next to our base and water filled the hole from our ABC base. It makes me wonder if water is coming from other places and seeping under the patio. I really don't think even with a concentrated area like that, that you would get enough penetration of water through your joints to account for that much water to saturate the base. i don't know the whole situation, but I feel strong that it is not the gutters. Not to say they are not also hurting the situation.

shovelracer
08-19-2009, 08:20 PM
OK, but how is that water causing settling. Is it washing the joint or bedding sand or eroding somewhere?

mrusk
08-19-2009, 08:51 PM
Pics please?

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
08-19-2009, 08:59 PM
No, not the same. Watch clogged gutters in a hardcore rain and you'll see water gushes down to one concentrated spot.

LOL! I do every spring and fall.:) It has to be washing out the bedding sand. When you fixed the problem the last few times what did you have to replace?

DVS Hardscaper
08-19-2009, 09:00 PM
The home is quite a large dwelling (upscale golf course community). It has a tremendous size roof. So you take all that square footage of roof that feeds the gutters and that adds up to be a lotta gallons of water dumping over the gutters, falling to one concentrated spot. You'd be amazed the impact created when concentrated amounts of water fall from 2(+) stories. One gallon weighs 8 pounds.

Starts with washing out the joint sand, and everything follows from there.

Even with my smaller, poor man, block stacker, size home - the water creates a wear spot in the ground where it splatters when the gutters are clogged.

In terms of the one corner with a small amount of settlement, this is another reason to exercise common sense when burying down spouts. We have never installed black flex tubing on jobs on wooded or treed lots. They get an obstruction and the only way to fix the problem is to replace the pipe. Unlike with PVC where it's smooth and doesn't get obstructed as easily, and if it does you can run a snake through it.

Anyone have a clause for such issues?



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DVS Hardscaper
08-19-2009, 09:08 PM
...... When you fixed the problem the last few times what did you have to replace?


I couldn't tell you. I tells the boys to go to such and such job and fix it.

DVS Hardscaper
08-19-2009, 09:27 PM
do you have Poly Sand in the joints? if so, i don't see how the water from the gutters would be making its way into the situation. Does the house have foundation drains across the front of the house? I recently was working on a back yard walkway and the homes foundation drains were clogged allowing all the accumulated water along the front foundation to go under the concrete pad in the garage and come out where we were walking. we did a 3ft over dig in that area and after we compacted all the way up with ABC and finished the patio, we went back into put the fence post back in right next to our base and water filled the hole from our ABC base. It makes me wonder if water is coming from other places and seeping under the patio. I really don't think even with a concentrated area like that, that you would get enough penetration of water through your joints to account for that much water to saturate the base. i don't know the whole situation, but I feel strong that it is not the gutters. Not to say they are not also hurting the situation.



Gotta keep in mind this is the internet. Only so much time to type.

One thing to remember is poly sand is nothing other than.....sand. It's not mortar, nor is it concrete. Water can be destructive. Once water breaks 1 sq centimeter open - it escalates from there.

To give an idea of the magnatude of destruction water can do: We just did a rear patio where the home had undersize gutters on the front. And their front porch is concrete. Last week the home owner pointed out to me where the surface of the concrete was worn down from the water dumping onto it before they upgraded the gutter.



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Rex Mann
08-19-2009, 09:27 PM
What are rain gutters?

We do have a clause in our contract about this very issue.

Peace,

Rex

http://PaversInstalled.Com

Bleed Green
08-19-2009, 09:40 PM
rain gutters like on a house you mean?

Duffster
08-19-2009, 09:43 PM
What are rain gutters?



http://www.stuccotechutah.com/images/gutters001.gif

kootoomootoo
08-19-2009, 10:08 PM
"the only fix is for us to remove the raised bed that some idiot placed along your patio".


i know this guy...he gets around.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
08-22-2009, 10:27 AM
I'll be adding this clause to my contract since this is happening on my front walk. My house is on a slab and the front concrete walk is sloping away from the house. I alway's thought it was poured that way to shed water away from the slab faster. When it POURS we have a small lake sitting for a few minutes. Fortunately this will be fixed when I install my paver walk and new gutters.

DVS Hardscaper
08-22-2009, 11:03 AM
We did the repair on Thursday.

I was there all day, did a lot of observing of client's home, gutters, living habits.

ya know, I keep saying this - but we home owners are lazy. We let things go. I keep using the analogy of hot water heaters. How many of us actually flush our hot water heaters once a year a recommended??? My home is 6 yrs old, and I have yet to flush my hot water heater. My point is - things get neglected.

Ok, well the home at hand - their rear gutter on the back of their house has a black stain on it (from the trees, dirt in the air, etc), and on the back stain, you can clearly see wash out marks from where water has been gushing over the side.

Also, after close observation I'm not so sure their gutter is large enough to handle water from heavy rains. They have the standard size guttering, I think they could go one size larger. I say this because their large roof has one heck of a pitch to it. Reality is: builders use cheapest of everything. For this home, I think they skimped on proper size guttering.

The lady said "yeah we have someone that cleans the gutters twice a year". Ok, but in order to clean gutters.....FIRST THEY HAVE TO HAVE DIRT IN THEM!! So by the time it gets to that point to where it necisitates servicing - most likely water is already overflowing!!!

I'd like to add a clause to our warranty page. Just not sure how to word it. So many different scenerios. I don't want to be too specific to where it puts limits on the issue. Yet, I want to make sure we're covered no matter what the scenerio.


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Rex Mann
08-22-2009, 07:25 PM
We did the repair on Thursday.

I was there all day, did a lot of observing of client's home, gutters, living habits.


,


Sounds creepy. How did the living habits contribute to the problem?

Peace,

Rex

http://PaversInstalled.Com

Follow us on Twitter @ PaversInstalled

DeereHauler
08-22-2009, 09:37 PM
its not always the gutter size and capacity, its the downspout size, and capacity to take the water away from the gutter quick enough. usually 5" gutter which is standard about everywhere is plenty. installers usually use 2x3 downspouts, and in the case where its a large roof, and takes on a lot of water, a 3x4 downspout would be better.

also the pitch could be wrong from the house settling, or something. i just bid a job where the water ran out the wrong end of the gutter, and washed out his landscaping.

also check where the downspout goes, the gutter may be clean but the downspout may be clogged. i have seen downspouts installed in what an excavator called "a dry well" which was a joke, he dug a small hole, added the pipe, and some 2b, and called it good.

if your customer has a constant problem with clogged gutter there are lots of options out there. i have large maple trees, and i use Gutter Helmet. Installed over my gutters it lets the water in, and crap stays out, and ALL the water goes in the gutter, it handles like 20 inches an hour or something crazy like that. i had gutter topper, but i removed that garbage and got gutter helmet, which is much better.

i have seen water pit out concrete and asphalt from constantly overflowing gutters.

my dad is a general contractor, and my brother installs gutter for a living, so i have some backround on this wonderful topic...haha

DVS Hardscaper
08-23-2009, 11:56 AM
Sounds creepy. How did the living habits contribute to the problem?





iN regards to maintenance. Overgrown shrubbery. Debris on the patio. Patio furnature not neatly arranged. if their shrubbery isn't upkept - then it's a safe bet to say neither are their gutters.

DVS Hardscaper
08-23-2009, 12:05 PM
its not always the gutter size and capacity, its the downspout size, and capacity to take the water away from the gutter quick enough. usually 5" gutter which is standard about everywhere is plenty. installers usually use 2x3 downspouts, and in the case where its a large roof, and takes on a lot of water, a 3x4 downspout would be better.

also the pitch could be wrong from the house settling, or something. i just bid a job where the water ran out the wrong end of the gutter, and washed out his landscaping.

also check where the downspout goes, the gutter may be clean but the downspout may be clogged. i have seen downspouts installed in what an excavator called "a dry well" which was a joke, he dug a small hole, added the pipe, and some 2b, and called it good.

if your customer has a constant problem with clogged gutter there are lots of options out there. i have large maple trees, and i use Gutter Helmet. Installed over my gutters it lets the water in, and crap stays out, and ALL the water goes in the gutter, it handles like 20 inches an hour or something crazy like that. i had gutter topper, but i removed that garbage and got gutter helmet, which is much better.

i have seen water pit out concrete and asphalt from constantly overflowing gutters.

my dad is a general contractor, and my brother installs gutter for a living, so i have some backround on this wonderful topic...haha



We work with alotta drainage issues, but I've never thought about roof gutters impacting our pavers.

Good points about the down spouting being too small. I have sometimes wondered about that. My house has a way smaller roof than this client's roof, and even after freshly cleaning my own gutters (and I always unclog the elbows on the spouts) It's always seemed the spouts are still constricting the water flow. So if this is a issue for my little shack, I could certainly see it being an issue for our client's big homes!


Just another issue for all hardscape guys to seriously consider adding to their warranty page. Here we've been to this house to fix the patio 3-4 times, and never once did I think it was a water issue, just assumed it was settlement.

I'll have to look at the "premier hardscape site", I'm sure someone there has already copied my topic!



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White Gardens
08-23-2009, 12:27 PM
I agree that it's probably the down-spouts.

I'm guessing the home is partially newer ( within 20 years ), and the dirt is still settling around the house.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if some of the runoff is getting into the footing tiles and causing sink holes.

Stone Creations
08-30-2009, 08:10 PM
DVS..you did this patio 7 years ago and you not charging for maintenance. There's the problem..I thought my 5 year warranty was long..
Yes could be the gutters overflowing..could be there beds are flowing into the patio..could be the clouds decide to rain just on that patio....but the point is draw a line and charge...you"ll see how fast that homeowner jumps on a ladder and cks those gutters..be specific and tell them.."with all do respect ive done everything to industry standard and saved this patio 4 times for free...he's a pamplet on our companys yearly maintenance"...if he wants to build a waterslide he'll make sure it's pointed toward the street....

DVS Hardscaper
08-30-2009, 09:41 PM
DVS..you did this patio 7 years ago and you not charging for maintenance. There's the problem..I thought my 5 year warranty was long..
Yes could be the gutters overflowing..could be there beds are flowing into the patio..could be the clouds decide to rain just on that patio....but the point is draw a line and charge...you"ll see how fast that homeowner jumps on a ladder and cks those gutters..be specific and tell them.."with all do respect ive done everything to industry standard and saved this patio 4 times for free...he's a pamplet on our companys yearly maintenance"...if he wants to build a waterslide he'll make sure it's pointed toward the street....


From a go-getter stand point, selling maintenance is a great idea.

However, until this recent repair I thought the patio simply was settling! No other scenerios ever crossed my mind. On my most recent visit I asked myself "why are we having so much trouble with this patio sinking?". So upon further observation it hit me that the gutters are probably the culprit.

This final repair we should not have done for free, nor were we obligated to do so. But, it's like this: It's a SMALL golf course community with residents of all age ranges. We've done a fair amount of jobs in this particular community. This particular home owner happens to be down to earth people who are very socialable within the community and they have referred us to several of their neighbors. They have young children that play with the neighbor kids. All the parents take the kids to the bus stop every morning. So with that said, I believe it is in my company's best interest to stay on these people's good side, or we'll never do work in that community again.

We have another community that's VERY large. We've done alot of work in that community. The community has a private internet forum (entry available only via an HOA issues password). When we work in this particular community I make sure the clients are content with our work, as I don't want ONE negative thing written about my company on their forum.

When we did the recent repair I did politely inform the Mrs. that the patio is out of warranty. I also spent about 10 minutes politely going over my theory about the clogged gutters, etc. I also very politely advised her that this would be the last time we repair their patio free of charge. She was very nice and understanding. She thanked me for taking good care of them, and she provided the guys with cold drinking water as they were working.

I'm all for selling maintenance contracts, but I'm not too keen about maintaining their gutters. See, we're a small company and we work our maintenance jobs around / between install jobs. And if the gutters are clogged / overflowing for 2 weeks while we finish an install job - then I'm shooting myself in the foot. I'd rather leave that responsibility to the home owner or some other contractor.

Purpose of sharing this experience is to bring this issue to light so others can be prepared for if / when this happens to them. Like I said, it never crossed my mind that the gutters were causing the settlement, I simply thought they had some major settlement issues! Now I know and hopefully sharing this will help others be prepared. I think all hardscape guys need to make sure they address this issue in their warranty page, or in their contract :)



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DeereHauler
09-01-2009, 10:16 PM
both you guys made a good point. yes it was most likely a gutter issue, but if its a good client in a good area, thats better than losing a lot of good clients in a good area, just over a small fix. but like said it needs to be explained to the customer that they may other issues causing this, so they don't take advantage of your generosity.


i live in a small area, and a bad name spreads like wildfire, as do good names. i have one client who spreads my name like a freakin phone book ad, and she keeps us busy all the time. my wife complains when her bill is a week or 2 late. but for all the work she has gotten me over the last 5 plus years, i'm gonna look the other way, unless it becomes a major issue....

CF1128
09-02-2009, 08:53 PM
They are lucky they hired you from day one.
I hope they do appreciate it, and yes, that black flex pipe sucks.
I will not use it.