Updated: Feb 2
I’ve noticed over the years that most of us can be divided into Spring People or Fall people, I’m a Fall Person. I love the fall and most everything about it. Comfort food, high school football, wind and rain, I love it all. Another harbinger of Autumn is changing leaves, beautiful shades of yellow, red, and brown, but those little beauties are destined to fall and that means clogged gutters.
Roof gutters play a super important roll in the health of your home. And before you Southern Californians log off; they are important here too so keep reading. If you have quality leaf guards installed on your gutters, you are excused. Gutters collect the rain that runs off the roof and diverts it away from the structure of the home. Clogged gutters fill with water and either spill over onto the siding, onto the ground adjacent to the foundation, or hold it against the roof decking, fascia or other components causing those things to rot.
Remember, from your home’s point of view, water is the enemy. If too much water spills against the siding, the material will stain and eventually rot. Early on, the damage may not even be visible, it can occur behind the siding where you won’t see it until the damage is so extensive that you notice the drywall swelling or musty odors emanating from the wall.
It could leak into crawlspaces and encourage mold growth on the beams, joists, and sub-floors. If you have a basement, there is a plethora of problems you could experience; and none of them cheap.
Cleaning your gutters can be gross and what’s worse, it can be dangerous. Remember, ladders are tricky things and falling even a few feet can cause serious injury. If you’re not well versed in ladder safety, you should watch this instructional video before attempting to use a ladder. No joke. I did and I’m better for it. If you’re still not confident, hire a professional. If you’re not comfortable with either, you can purchase a special hose that attaches to your leaf blower so you can blow the most of the crud out of your gutters while standing safely on the ground. A similar attachment is available for your garden hose, think giant WaterPik.
Improper slope is another common issue with gutters. I know, I know, where’d this slope stuff come from? I thought we were just cleaning gutters. I have a bad habit of this sort of thing. It’s like when my wife says she just wants to stop by the mall to pick up one thing and then hits me with “Oh, while we’re here…” So, while you have the ladder out… Gutters work by the force of gravity. They should slope downward toward the downspout.
If you’ve had recent rain, you’ll notice standing water in the gutter during the cleaning process. If the gutters are dry use a 3 or 4 foot level to make sure the gutter slopes downward or is in need of correction.
Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments to the slope, check your work with a hose. Oh, and while you have the hose out…
This is also a good time to check for leaks. Leaking joints may not deposit as much water as a clogged gutter but they can cause the same kind of damage, it just takes longer. Most of the time the correction is as simple as pushing the parts closer together. With metal gutters you may need to apply some gutter repair sealant. The application is simple and it only takes a few minutes.
It’s recommended that your downspouts either drain into an underground system like a French drain, and out to the street or have them deposit the water onto the ground at least 6 feet from the house. SIX FEET? You’re out of your mind. I know this sounds crazy and I also know that none of your neighbors do this, except for the anal-retentive guy whose lawn is always perfect, cars are always clean and is constantly giving you unwanted advice. Relax, there are ways to do this without making your house look stupid.
A quick internet search will bring up several options like folding downspout extensions, bladder extensions, and more. Your local Lowes or Home Depot doesn’t carry every type option so you may have to order online or hire a local gutter guy. Check out the examples below, now don’t you think you can live with something like this?
Down here in the southwest, some houses don’t have any gutters at all. Although I appreciate this from an athletics point of view, I like clean lines and shiny fascia as much as the next owner of a spectacular mid-century modern California ranch style home, but it’s a bad idea. Again, water is the enemy. Even if your house is surrounded by concrete paths, patios and walkways; the foundation and other masonry are separate components, water can and will sink in between. For most homes, installing gutters is affordable and fairly easy to do, so don't be afraid. You can find all the information you need on the University of Youtube.
Well, that’s it for now and although it’s painful to leaf you all, see you soon.