Gutters and the downspouts that the wick water away from your structure are more than just fancy pieces of aluminum that keep the water from dripping down your back. Gutters and downspouts are essential to your homes wellbeing. Water that flows from your roof as it rains can easily damage your foundation, driveway, landscaping and lawn when not controlled properly by a gutter and downspout system.
When these systems are in perfect working order, they do their job without much notice. When your gutters are neglected, they can easily clog with debris, causing water to back up inside of the roof, down walls, under foundations and into your home. Even when the water can trickle down your downspouts without causing a leak, if they are clogged with debris, it’s the perfect place for insects to make their home.
Clogged Gutter Troubles
If water is not allowed to flow correctly out of your gutters downspouts, it can easily back up and flow over the edge of the gutter walls. This can allow water to flow back into the fascia and under the drip edge. When water is able to penetrate beyond the protection of your fascia and drip edge, it can create disastrous effects that can easily ruin wood sub fascia, plywood and joists for good.
As water reaches the interior edge of your structure, it not only destroys the wood and metal components of your roof, but it can also attract insects, mold and fungus. Termites, fungus and mold all need a source of water to live and if your gutters and downspouts are allowing them access to it, they are sure to thrive and expand further and further up your roof line. Soft spots, sagging roof lines and major discolorations are all signs that something is wrong with the flow of water from your gutters.
But it’s not just the roof that can be affected by gutter clogs. Major problems with the walls, foundation and basement can easily take place when water is not properly wicked away from the base of the structure. As water is allowed to flow down beside the edge of the foundation walls, it can quickly cause soil to compact, creating sinkholes, dips and pits around your foundation. This will undoubtedly lead to step cracks in block and brick walls.
Basements are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon and great care should be taken to reduce water infiltration around the base of the home. By extending downspouts away from the foundation, you’ll also prevent fungus and mold growth on interior basement walls.
Basics of Gutter Maintenance
With the potential to cause hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damages, clogged gutters should be cleaned biannually to ensure that they are clear and free to allow water to flow down and away from your home. It’s important to clean your gutters from major debris both during the fall season after trees have dropped their leaves and during the spring when pollen and buds form and fall.
Cleaning a gutter can be a tough job for many homeowners and that’s often why they end up becoming neglected. Being up on a steep roof or a high ladder is not the best place for the unexperienced homeowner. Gutter cleaning equipment such as extended hose nozzles, blowers and even robotic gutter cleaners are great ways to help maintain gutter and downspouts twice a year. However, they are not the answer to neglected gutters that are clogged with leaves and sticks.
When gutters are heavily clogged with debris, it’s best to hire a professional gutter cleaner to safely and carefully remove the debris. Not only is it dangerous for homeowners to climb unsteady ladders and navigate slippery roofs but if the job isn’t done correctly, severe damages to your roof, drip edge and fascia can occur. Be sure to hire a gutter cleaning crew that has plenty of experience performing gutter cleaning work as well as proper liability and workers compensation insurance to make certain your gutters will be cleaned properly and without damages.
While gutters and downspouts clogged with tree litter is very serious and should be cleaned each spring and fall, people with limited tree cover around there home should also worry about clogged gutter problems—even if there are no trees directly over the roof. Pollen, dirt and dust can quickly accumulate in gutters far from trees. Gutters with little tree cover should at least be checked each year for debris build up. That’s because a shingle roof can create debris as the gravel that covers asphalt shingles comes loose and clogs gutter channels.
Once gutters and downspouts are clean and the water can flow properly, it’s a good idea to install a series of gutter covers or leaf guards to reduce the amount of debris that accumulates in your gutters and downspouts. Leaf guards come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles so no matter what type of gutter system you have installed, you can be sure to find a leaf guard for your gutter with ease. This will allow you to cut gutter maintenance down to a once a year event.
No matter how large or small your gutter system is, be sure to inspect it for clogs and damages each year to prevent more costly repairs later on down the road.
Photo by Tony Buser Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region