Gutters are an important part of your house exterior’s defense against the elements. But for many homeowners gutters are an out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue. As long as they are cleaned and maintained twice a year, there’s not much else that needs to be done, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a number of other factors impacting the functionality and longevity of your gutter system. So, how well do you know your gutters?
Just How Important are Gutters?
While most people are aware of what they do, they might not realize just how important the gutters are. Underestimating their importance can be detrimental to how well the gutters protect your home and the various elements of your home’s exterior. Gutters are a water management system designed to carry water from the roof and into the downpipes where it’s deposited a safe distance away from exterior walls. But a gutter system does more than channel water – it prevents basement flooding, protects siding from potential damage, and stops the roof developing leaks.
Age of the Gutters
Knowing how old the gutters are will help you better care for them. The older they are they will require more upkeep than they did when they were five years old or younger. For example, if your aluminum gutters were installed 15 or more years ago, you might want to inspect them for damage after a heavy fall rainstorm or stormy winter winds.
Continually Clogged Gutters
Clogs are formed when debris builds up to the point water is no longer able to reach the downspouts. To be properly maintained, cleaning the gutters should be done a minimum of two times a year, often even three or four depending on where you live (next to a warehouse) and microclimate (more trees near the northeast corner of the gutters). If continually clogged gutters aren’t resolved by regular cleaning or by increasing the number of times per year they are cleaned, check the gutter pitch.
Bad Gutter Slope
Rainwater needs to run downward in the direction of the downspouts. When regular gutter cleanings aren’t enough and you see these signs of bad gutter slope – soil erosion, rust spots and damage to the roof, siding, and foundation – then the gutter slope needs to be realigned.
Do the Downspouts Need Help?
The recommended distance for downspouts to deposit water is a minimum of 7 to 10 feet, depending on available space. If water from a downspout exits too close to the foundation of your home, the downpipes need help from a splash block or downspout extender. Different types of downspout extenders are used for specific purposes, but all downpipe extensions will direct water away from the foundation to an area where it won’t harm your home or landscaping.