Submitted by Jon McCreath, NPI Franchise Owner, Emerson, Georgia
Gutter systems are one of the most important components of a home, yet they are oftentimes one of the most overlooked items when it comes to home maintenance. Gutter systems are designed to protect a building’s foundation by channeling water away from it. Gutters, if maintained properly, can also prevent soil erosion and foundation leaks, as well as protect the exterior surfaces of a dwelling from deterioration and rotting. Fortunately, gutter maintenance is typically an easy DIY for homeowners, or if you desire to have a professional maintain your gutter system, it can be done so relatively inexpensively. Either way, a gutter maintenance program can prevent long-term problems and expensive repairs.
Your Gutter System
Gutter systems — which include the gutters, downspouts and extensions — are typically made of steel, aluminum or vinyl. Steel gutters are generally stronger and longer lasting than their aluminum and vinyl counterparts, as those products can be susceptible to ladder damage. Galvanized steel products can be susceptible to rust if not properly maintained. Most of today’s homes will likely have a steel or aluminum product in place.
Current standards suggest that a horizontal run of gutter should have a downspout for every 35-40 feet of run. However, attention should be given to the pitch of the roof as well as the number of slopes that are directed to a single downspout. The steeper the slope, the greater the velocity of water runoff. Gutters should have a 1/4-inch of slope per 10 feet of run. Extensions and splash blocks should extend 3 to 6 feet away from the foundation.
The most common maintenance issue for gutters is clogging. Gutters can become clogged with leaves and other debris, including the granules from shingles. Continued water runoff can create a sludge-like condition that will eventually render the gutter system useless. It is suggested that gutters be cleaned at least one to two times a year. Unless it is a safety concern, you can generally clean your own gutters, as hiring a professional to do so is usually inexpensive.
Sometimes a clogged gutter will lead to another common issue: sagging gutters. Once a gutter is clogged with debris, the standing water and debris can weigh down the gutters and pull them away from their hangers or attachments to the home. However, it isn’t always a clogged gutter that leads to sagging. Through time, hangers can deteriorate and fasteners can simply back out due to expansion and contraction. The good news is that this is also an inexpensive DIY project to add more hangers, or re-secure the existing.
Leaks at gutter seams are also something to keep an eye on. Another easy DIY: Simply apply a gutter sealant at the seam/joint and be sure to allow 24 hours for curing.
Take the time and do an annual inspection of your gutter system. Avoiding these common issues by implementing a gutter maintenance program is the No. 1 way to prevent expensive water damage problems to your home.
Tagged: gutters, home maintenance, Jon McCreath, water intrusion