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Clogged gutters and downspouts cannot properly drain rainwater from your roofline and away from your home, but how much of an impact does cleaning them out really make in terms of basement waterproofing?
The short answer: not much.
During heavy rain, clogged gutters often overflow and dump rainwater beside foundation walls. When the soil next to the foundation is not graded or sloped away properly, water can pool against the basement walls and may seep into wall cracks and leak into the basement. Even without cracks in the walls, hydrostatic pressure against the outside walls can still cause the walls to weep.
An all-too-common waterproofing myth goes like this: "If I clean out my gutters and extend my downspouts, then my basement will stay dry."
Cleaning out your gutters and extended downspouts will help drain rainwater from your roofline, but your gutters and downspouts are not responsible for all of the rainwater. They can only collect the water that falls into them.
The problem is that storm clouds don't just rain on your roof. Even isolated showers still drench a neighborhood. So, draining rainwater from your roof doesn't address your whole basement water problem.
When it rains, the loose soil around your basement becomes saturated. The more saturated the soil around your foundation gets, the more hydrostatic pressure there is on cracks and joints in the foundation. When there is enough hydrostatic pressure on those cracks and joints, water will find the path of least resistance and push its way into your basement. When that happens, there's nothing your gutters or downspouts can do to prevent basement flooding.