If you are like most homeowners, your gutters aren’t something you often worry about. They need routine gutter cleaning, but otherwise, their functionality is very simple.
It’s not until your rain gutters aren’t doing their job that you understand just how important they are for your home!
WHAT DO GUTTERS DO?
Gutters and downspouts go unnoticed on most houses in Boulder. They fade into the exterior unless the homeowner chose copper or wood … materials that are definitely meant to stand out! Most are crafted from durable but lightweight aluminum or vinyl siding.
The point of gutters is to create a path of minimal resistance for rain to get off your roof as fast as possible. When they are in good condition, your gutters will direct runoff away from the foundation and landscaping, will protect your home’s exterior from mold and mildew, the concrete and pavement and basement from leaks, and the rain gutters themselves from wear and rust.
When gutters are damaged, it can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your house and surrounding property.
ARE YOUR GUTTERS DAMAGED?
Gutter damage is too easy to fix to be the cause of any major home repairs! Keeping an eye on your gutters is easy and safe. If you identify any of the following issues, it’s a pretty strong clue that your rain gutters have some type of damage.
As soon as you notice a possible gutter problem, you can decide whether it’s something you are comfortable repairing or remedying on your own or if it’s a project you should call a gutter repairman to handle.
Sitting Water Near Your Home
Standing water near your home is a sure sign that your gutters or downspouts are not directing the rain runoff away from your home the way they are designed to. Pooling water can cause mold, weakening of your foundation, and provides the perfect habitat for pesky mosquitoes. Plus, it will leave the areas surrounding your home consistently wet and muddy.
Mold or Mildew
Either one of these is a bad sign, whether you see mold or mildew on the gutters or on the sides of your home. Mold and mildew indicate that there is excessive moisture around that area – a possible issue with the rain gutters could be the cause. Remember that mildew and mold are likely to grow on the north side of a house anyway, so if that’s where these substances are appearing, it might just be because that area doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight on it. This is a scenario when the advice and knowledge of a professional in Boulder would be helpful.
Rain Pouring Over the Gutter
You’ll need to wait until it’s actually raining to find this type of gutter problem. Hopefully this doesn’t mean your gutters are damaged. It could just be that the gutter is clogged with debris and should be cleaned out. In either case, you want to have it checked right away.
Based on the design of your basement, your leak could be caused by any number of things. The standing water issue we discussed before could definitely cause a basement leak. Egress windows and cinder block walls will only keep out so much water. That’s why it is so necessary to keep your gutters in good condition!
Landscaping or Lawn Damage
Rain gutters pour directly onto the ground in most cases, and landscaping should be designed to work with this water flow to help it submerge into the ground. But, a gutter leak or clogged gutter will allow rainfall to overflow or pool where it isn’t supposed to. This rain water can destroy plants by force or by overwatering. It might also displace flower bed materials like mulch or rock.
Water marks are the first sign that there is a lot of moisture on a surface. Water marks are sometimes left behind even if pooling water has evaporated or dissipated into the ground. You will usually see water marks right beneath the gutters or directly behind the downspouts. This is a typically a sign that water is streaming down the outside of the gutters and not staying inside of them.
Visible Gutter Damage
The final sign of gutter damage is by far the easiest to spot. If your gutters are bent, sagging or cracked, they definitely have damage. After a storm, it’s a smart idea to walk around your house to assess any damage to the roof shingles, outer walls, and gutters. These inspections are in addition to any routine home inspections.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR GUTTERS?
Here are a few easy tips Boulder Gutters, Inc. recommends to help prevent gutter damage:
Clean your gutters at least once each year. You can extend the amount of time between gutter repairs by having them cleaned out. As with anything else, the better you maintain your gutters, the fewer issues you’ll have with them.
The optimal time to clean out gutters is in the spring, but to be extra cautious, give them a cleaning in the fall, too. Many homeowners choose to clean their gutters on their own, but there are many local gutter cleaning companies that offer this service so you don’t have to handle the mess or the risk.
Inspect your gutters often. Signs of gutter damage can be visible from the outside of the gutters. A fast inspection – with both feet firmly on the ground – should reveal any of the signs we wrote about above.
We’d recommend that you complete an exterior home inspection following each season to confirm that your gutters are functioning correctly.
When you see signs of gutter damage, act fast. Taking care of a problem before it becomes too bad can save you a lot of time and money. A small crack, for example, can be sealed, or the section of gutter with the crack can be replaced very affordably.
However, if you let the problem go on for too long, you might end up needing repairs in your basement, replacing expensive vinyl siding or redoing an entire section of landscaping.