How to prevent common gutter problems

Gutters are not just decorative; they serve an important purpose in protecting our homes against water damage. Gutter problems can cause plenty of headache and hassle for homeowners. Fortunately, may gutter issues are preventable through regular maintenance and upkeep. The following are some of the most common gutter problems – and how to prevent them.

Problem #1: Leaks

Leaks are one of the most common – and most damaging – gutter problems. If ignored, leaks can damage a home’s roof, siding, and even foundation. There are a number of things that cause gutter leaks. Improper fasteners, improperly sized gutters, cracks, holes, and clogs or debris are some of the most common causes of gutter leaks.

Grabbing an umbrella and heading outside during a rainstorm can help identify any leaks in the gutter system. Likewise, after it rains look for any areas on the side of the house that seem unusually wet, standing water around the base of the home, or parts of the landscaping that have been flooded or washed away. This can all be signs of a gutter leak.

Problem #2: Bad downspout drainage

Downspouts need to be placed in specific locations and point in the right direction in order to help water drain away from the house. If downspouts are too short or drain too close to the home, water can pool around the base of the home – and lead to serious foundation problems.

Ensure downspouts extend at least five feet away from the home; this allows water to drain away from the foundation. Still experiencing issues? Downspout extensions can be purchases at any home improvement store for around $5-$10.

Problem #3: Clogged gutters

Apart from leaks, clogged gutters are one of the most common gutter problems. Everything from leaves and twigs to plastic bags and baseballs can cause gutter clogs; if seeds fall into clogged gutters, you may even find yourself with a miniature gutter garden. In addition to causing leaks and preventing water flow, clogs can add excessive weight to gutters cracks, separation of joints, and other problems.

The best way to prevent clogged gutters is by trimming nearby trees away from the roofline. In addition, check gutters every spring and fall for signs of accumulating debris. Having ongoing issues? Consider investing in gutter covers to prevent future clogs.

Problem #4: Improper gutter slope

Most homeowners have never considered the slop of their gutters. However, gutter slope is essential to the overall functionality of the gutters; if the gutters are installed with the wrong slope, a myriad of problems can arise. If the slope is too flat, water will pool in the system and spill over the sides of the gutters. Likewise, if the slope is slanted too sharply, the gutters cannot function at full capacity.

In general, gutters should be sloped at 1/4th of an inch per 10 feet of gutter. If you think the slope of your gutters is incorrect, contact a gutter professional or other home improvement contractor to help with the measuring – and adjusting – of the pitch.

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