When checking out a potential new home, how many people look toward the roof and say, “Well, that certainly is a fine gutter system you’ve got there. I’m sold!” Our guess is “not nearly enough.” While hardly glamorous to a home-shopper who may be more interested in an “open kitchen design” and the latest ductless HVAC system, properly installed and fully functioning gutters and downspouts are critical parts of a home that should not be ignored.
Nobody likes the sight of a wet basement. A well-maintained gutter system can help keep water out and the home’s foundation free from damaging moisture. Certified home inspectors, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, bring years of experience in reporting on the condition of a home’s gutter system. Some common gutter problems include:
- Gutters too small to handle the amount of anticipated rain, melting ice, and snow
- Gutters that don’t adequately slope toward the downspout—the incorrect angle will either hinder the flow of water (often leading to trapped, standing water) or cause rainfall to be channeled too quickly, resulting in overflow. If not sloped correctly at installation, this situation can be difficult to correct.
- Cracks, gaps, rust, and pieces that are loose or pulled away from the roof
- Leaking or missing end caps, which can cause cascading water to contact and penetrate walls rather than be diverted away from the home
- Missing mounting hardware and other conditions that cause gutters to sag
It is recommended that downspouts are installed in a manner that enables them to channel water four to six feet from the home’s foundation. Some typical downspout issues include:
- Downspouts poorly fastened to the home
- Leaky downspout joints and missing sections
- Clogged or buried downspouts
- Downspouts not properly connected to the gutter
- Insufficient openings for water to escape (cars running over the extension is a common cause of narrowed openings)
- Installation in an area with no sloping or with grading that slopes toward the home
- Downspouts that do not extend away from the home
Your inspector will also recommend that you regularly clean your gutters. Here’s why:
- Wall, Ceiling, and Fascia Damage: A properly functioning gutter system will drain water down from the roof and away from the home and its foundation. Water trying to run through
gutters clogged with dirt, leaves, and twigscan find its way into walls and ceilings. The result is rotting wood and compromised structural integrity. Further, wood fascia boards that hold up gutters are prone to rotting when rainwater is not able to flow freely.
- Foundation Problems: Over time, water pooling at the foundation can cause cracks due to freezing and thawing. This can lead to basement and crawlspace flooding, and other issues. Even if no cracks form, the presence of water increases the risk of dangerous mold growth.
- Gutter System Failure: Wet leaves and other materials weigh gutters down,
causing them pull away from the house or come crashing down. Save yourself the expense of costly gutter repairs and any collateral damage to the home by inexpensive cleaning in the fall and spring.
- Siding or Paint Damage: Water cascading out of clogged gutters can run down the exterior of a home, causing unsightly water marks.
- Roofing Problems: When blocked water in a gutter freezes (known as ice damming), it can push up against the roof and work its way under shingles.
- Landscape Issues: Excessive water pouring out of a clogged gutter system can harm flowerbeds, shrubs, and small trees.
And if you choose to clean your gutters yourself, please take every safety precaution necessary to make sure you get up and down the ladder without harm!
Inspection of a home’s gutter system is just one part of an A-Pro foundation-to-roof 500-point inspection. To schedule a home inspection, call 360-489-6100 or visit here.