Guest Blog: Getting Into Your Gutters, by HouseMaster Canada
As long as they are not experiencing any problems, many homeowners tend to ignore their roof drainage system – until it’s too late. Most gutters need to be cleaned at least two to three times per year to remove a buildup of leaves, pine needles, silt and other debris. It is also important to check them before major storms are expected and after the leaves have fallen from the trees. If there are overhanging or nearby trees, cleaning will be required on a regular basis to minimize the chance of a backup in a storm. Even the presence of “gutter guards” does not eliminate the need to check for problems.
The best time to check the function of gutters and downspouts is during a heavy rainstorm. The water should flow freely off the roof to the gutters and then eventually discharge to the ground or underground lines through downspouts. At ground level, make sure that all roof water is directed away from the foundation using extensions or splash blocks. If downspouts are connected to underground lines or drywells, they should be checked with a garden hose periodically to make sure that the flow is unrestricted.
There are two basic gutter types – hanging or built-in. Hanging gutters are the most common type and are usually quite noticeable along the roof edge of a house even to the untrained eye. On the other hand, built-in gutters are usually not readily visible since they are integral with the roof/ eave structure. Flat roofs may have an internal drain that can only be observed when on the roof.
Built-in gutters are typically made of wood with a metal or roofing membrane as a lining. They are difficult to inspect and to maintain. If they are not maintained they will eventually deteriorate and leak. This leakage may go unnoticed until it finds its way into the interior or causes significant damage to the roof eave area and other elements.
While problems with hanging gutters are more noticeable, poorly maintained gutters will eventually clog and overflow. The buildup of debris not only causes blockage, but can contribute to the deterioration and cause them to sag or pull away from the roof edge.
In some cases, specially designed gutter guards or “helmets” may prove effective in keeping gutters free-flowing; however, even with these guards in place the gutters should be checked periodically. Lightweight gutter screening should not be used as it tends to get blocked and sag – only complicating matters.
Gutter cleaning services are available; however, a professional roofer may be needed to check and maintain built-in gutters or gutters located high off the ground.
Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.
HouseMaster is the oldest and most respected name in home and building inspections throughout North America. Our staff has been featured numerous times in national and local broadcast as well as print media and online. No one is better prepared to deliver objective, expert home and building inspections and reports.