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Dirty / Clogged Gutters Can Cause Patio to Sink

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    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".

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  2. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    How is the drains and gutters creating settlement? Isn't it the same as a nice hardcore rain?
  3. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    No, not the same. Watch clogged gutters in a hardcore rain and you'll see water gushes down to one concentrated spot.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009

    SOUTHERNGREENSCAPES LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 763

    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.
  5. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    OK, but how is that water causing settling. Is it washing the joint or bedding sand or eroding somewhere?
  6. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    Pics please?
  7. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    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?
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    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?

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

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

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    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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