Rain gutters along with routine gutter maintenance play an important if not often overlooked role in protecting your home. They transport water off of your roof and through downspouts so that it can drain into your yard.
Damaged or old gutters can lead to water draining too close to the sides of your home, which can lead to internal water damage and basement flooding. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of damaged gutters and what you can do to fix them. Read on to get an overview of general gutter maintenance.
Three Signs You Need Gutter Maintenance
Like most of the rest of the exterior of your home, your gutters are subjected to a range of different weather conditions. Rain and wind are enough to take a toll on them, and affect how well they can drain.
You should keep an eye on your home’s siding. When a leak develops in your gutter system, the water can run down the sides of your property. This can wear away the paint and cause fading – but also increases the risk of water seeping behind your siding and causing water damage inside your home.
You should also pay attention to the ground around the base of your home. Water that overflows or leaks from your gutters can cause soil erosion and plant damage. This can also indicate when water is draining too close to the side of your property, where it can then enter your basement and cause flooding or even crack the foundation.
A visual inspection of your gutters, both up close and far away, can also alert you to damage. Damaged supports and brackets can fall off, as can the screws that hold them in place – you’ll find them scattered around your yard. You may also be able to see if your gutters are slouching away from the sides of your roof from the ground.
However, it’s always a good idea to get up onto the roof yourself and inspect the gutters up close. Be sure to rest your ladder on the siding, not on the gutters themselves. They tend to be thin and easily dented if you place your weight on them.
It’s entirely possible that a smaller gap has developed. To really test out your gutters, you can run a hose up the ladder and let a small amount of water flow through when it’s not raining – this lets you see if water is able to escape.
You should also pay attention to the interior of your home. Leaks from your gutters can cause water damage behind your walls and ceilings – through staining, sagging plaster, peeling wallpaper and paint, and other signs of damage. You should also watch out for an earthy smell and large dark stains, which can point to mold growth.
Your foundation may also crack if water is able to seep into it. Water that freezes in the concrete walls of your basement will expand, which can cause small cracks to begin. This can lead to larger foundation issues for your entire home, so they should be addressed as soon as they appear.
How to Keep Gutters (and Downspouts) in Good Condition
The most important thing that you can do for your gutters is to clean them out regularly. Once debris has built up in your gutters, water can quickly overflow. In fact, completely clogged gutters may not be able to hold much water at all.
The added weight that debris places in your gutters can even pull your gutters away from the side of your roof. You should also note that water that is allowed to sit stagnant in your gutters can lead to pest infestations, and cause rust in older and worn gutters.
To make your life a little easier, you should consider installing gutter guards. As their name suggests, gutter guards prevent debris from entering your gutters, though they do have small holes or perforations that let water pass through.
It’s important for you to keep an eye on your downspouts as well. Downspouts need to carry water far enough away from the sides of your home so that the water is unable to drain back into your basement. A large part of this has to do with the grading of your landscape, but you want your downspouts to carry water at least a few feet away.
While you’re up on a ladder cleaning your gutters out, you should also take a look at the alignment. If any sections of your gutters are pulling away from the side of your home, you should tighten the screws holding the support brackets in place. Alternatively, you may have to have that specific bracket or section of gutter replaced to ensure water is able to flow smoothly off of your roof.
Gutter Maintenance Needs to be Constant
The most important thing to keep in mind about gutter maintenance is that it needs to be a regular occurrence. Debris will constantly build up in your gutters, and the gutters themselves will only hold up for so long before they break.
Staying on top of gutter maintenance can increase your gutter system’s lifespan. Furthermore, it can also save you from dealing with painful and expensive interior water damage.
For more information about gutter maintenance and replacement, as well as any other questions you have about your home’s exterior in general, feel free to get in touch with us. Our team of experienced professionals will be more than happy to provide you with a free estimate and work with you to fix whatever problems you may be experiencing. We also offer gutter cleaning as an annual or semi-annual service.