Gutters and downspouts play an important role in maintaining and protecting your home. Over the fall and winter months, gutters experience more wear and tear. Extreme weather, winter debris and snow melt impact the gutter system. They may become clogged, damaged or detached.
The arrival of warm spring weather invites the perfect time to restore gutters and downspouts. Regular maintenance keeps your system working well throughout the year. Clean and reliable gutters allow water to flow off the roof and away from the foundation of your home. Invest in quality gutter care to keep your home in top shape.
The Risks of Damaged Gutters and Downspouts
Broken, clogged or old gutters lose their effectiveness. The purpose of the system is to remove excess water from the roof. A well-designed and installed system creates a path and method for intentional water removal.
Disruption to the planned flow leads to damage in other areas of your home or yard. In addition, broken gutters look unsightly and impact curb appeal. Many homeowner’s associations (HOA) have architectural standards that require upkeep of the property. Otherwise, the homeowner risks fines.
Gutters keep water from pooling on the roof. When water doesn’t flow off the roof, water damage occurs. Leaks, rotted fascia, ice dams, mold growth and erosion of shingles may occur from clogs. This leads to costly roof repairs or replacement.
Foundation Flooding and Damage
Clogged or broken gutters often overflow down the side of the home. Water then collects and pools near the foundation. The water seeps into the ground which can lead to flooding of the basement or crawl space. The foundation becomes compromised and may cause foundation cracks. Plus, water spilling down the side of exterior leads to staining or damage to the siding and windows.
When water spills onto the landscaping around your home, the ground cover and plants can flood. The soil erodes. Plants lose their foundation or become damaged by the excess water. Mulch or ground cover from the plant beds can flow onto the lawn creating a mess.
Cracks in Concrete
Sidewalks, patios and the driveway can experience cracks and damage from poor drainage. Excess water in the ground triggers the concrete to expand which leads to cracks. Especially during winter months when water freezes, the concrete risks more cracking.
In colder climates, ice dams impact the quality of the roof. An ice dam occurs when snow and ice melt as the temperature on the roof increases during the day. If the gutters don’t work correctly, the water sits on the roof. When the temperature drops below freezing, the water refreezes producing a dam of ice. Water continues to build up on the roof and the ice dam can expand.
When water and debris sit in gutters it creates the perfect environment for animals and insects to nest. As noted by experts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mosquitos, termites and other insects thrive in clogged gutters. Plus, squirrels, birds and other animals find comfort in gutters filled with debris.
Five Tips to Maintain Your Gutters
1. Spring Gutter Cleaning
Regularly cleaning gutters and downspouts is vital to the operation and lifespan of the system. As we discussed, clogged gutters create a multitude of problems. Most professionals recommend cleaning gutters twice annually.
While homeowners can clean gutters, professional gutter cleaning offers an affordable option to do the job quickly and with fewer risks. Professionals have the correct tools and training to avoid falls or damage. Plus, they haul away the mess and leave the property fresh.
2. Restore Gutters with Repairs
It’s easy to ignore a loose gutter or disconnected downspout. However, it’s not wise. Over time, what seems like a small problem can cause big damage. Gutter repairs are usually less expensive than gutter replacement.
Isolated gutter damage usually only requires repairs to fix the issue. It’s best to partner with a trusted professional to ensure accurate assessment and repairs.
3. Invest in Gutter Guards
Are you tired of cleaning clogged gutters? If so, installing gutter guards will save you extra work. A gutter guard is a mesh-like metal covering that goes on top of the gutter. The gutter guards allow water to flow into the gutter but keep out larger debris, like leaves.
The debris doesn’t flow into the downspout and cause hard-to-remove blockages. Gutter guards work especially well for homes with large trees that drop leaves or pine needles onto the roof. They add protection for most types of gutters.
4. Install a New Gutter System
As your home ages, so do your gutters. The typical gutter system lasts around 20 years. After this time, repairs become less effective. Like with other systems in your home, replacement produces the best option for long-term success.
When your gutters and downspouts start to have problems throughout the system, like rust, detached areas or holes, repairs no longer have a cost benefit and may not fix the issue. It’s best to invest in a new gutter system.
5. Upgrade to Seamless Gutters
Whether your current system isn’t working well or your gutters are older than 20 years, consider upgrading to seamless gutters. The two main options for gutters include sectional and seamless. Of the two, seamless is the best solution.
Seamless gutters last longer, have fewer leaks and are easier to clean. Choose the best option for your home and your investment. Get the lasting results you deserve with custom, seamless gutters.
How to Decide Between Replacement and Repairs
Undergoing big home projects requires solid decision making. When it comes to gutters, the choice isn’t as difficult as with other home projects, like a new roof. Here’s a simple guideline for when to replace and when to repair.
When to Repair Gutters:
- Newer gutter systems with an isolated problem
- A small number of holes or cracks
- Missing or loose hangers in only a few spots
- An isolated leak in a seam or joint
When to Replace Gutters:
- A section continues to separate after repairs
- Many issues throughout the system
- Large volume of holes or cracks
- Gutters will no longer stay attached to the fascia
- Pitch issues or sagging
- Dents in the gutters or downspouts from impact damage
- Gutters older than 20 years
Benefits of Well-Cared for Gutter Systems
Whatever you decide, gutter maintenance brings positive results. Protect your home by keeping your gutters a priority on your home maintenance check list. Schedule gutter cleaning each spring and address any leaks or damage quickly. You’ll find your gutters last longer and work better. Don’t delay! Get your gutters in tip-top shape for spring.