Clogged Gutters and Your Ceiling

Gutters protect our homes from water damage. But when cleaning the gutters isn’t part of a regular home maintenance routine, they can become clogged and cause trouble. One of the most common problems that are a result of blockages in a gutter system is damage to the roof. If you discover a stain on your ceiling, a leaking roof could be the culprit.

Gutters are Part of the Roof

It’s easy to think of the exterior finishing elements of your home as separate from each other. In actuality, the gutters are a part of the roofing system. To help the gutters do their job, the roof should be cleaned once a year particularly if debris collects in valleys or around flashings where a heavy rainfall can dislodge it, sending it into the gutter system.

How Blockages Form

When it rains or the snow on the roof melts, the roof is designed to shed the water that falls on it. Gutters catch rainwater and guide it toward the downspouts where it exits the gutter system. Clogs form for a number of reasons including:

  • Gutters have become misaligned – gutter slope is off
  • Gutters have been installed incorrectly
  • The gutter system isn’t being maintained

If debris such as twigs, leaves, pine cones, seed pods, and dirt are allowed to buildup, as little bits of material collect, water has to find a way around the obstruction. Once the water no longer finds a way around, the gutters can overflow. Clogs aren’t limited to just the gutter channels. When debris flows into the downspouts, blockages can form inside the downpipes, forcing water back up into the gutters.

When Water Hangs Around

When water doesn’t drain properly from the gutter system, it might result in standing water in the gutter channel. Water combined with debris adds weight to the gutters, putting more stress on the fascia and making the roof vulnerable to damage, particularly leaks.

The roofing system is also susceptible to water damage if rainwater and moisture sits on the shingles for long periods of time. Especially if it is an asphalt roof, constant contact with pooling water can wear away the granules that protect asphalt shingles from UV damage and excess moisture.

Gutters that overflow regularly can splash water up into vented soffits allowing water to collect and pool, damaging the soffit panels and other parts of the roofing system. If the problem goes undetected, leaks can occur.

Water Stains on the Ceiling

When a gutter system doesn’t drain properly or is so clogged it allows water to soak into the roofing shingles, the roof can be affected by the weight of the water and start to leak. It can take a while to manifest itself, but by the time stains appear on the ceilings inside your home, the leak could be extensive and have done serious damage to the roof or the structure of the house.

Be Proactive

A stained ceiling is never a good sign. As soon as you see damp spots, noticeable stains, or discolouration on the ceilings of your home try to track down the source.

If the water can’t flow through the gutter system after collecting rainwater from the roof and directing it into the ground, it can splash up onto the eaves or overflow down siding. When enough water builds up at the roofline, it can seep into the interior of a home, staining inside walls and ceilings. If you haven’t had the gutters cleaned recently check the gutter system – gutter channels and downspouts – for blockages. When there’s standing water or extensive debris build-up clean the gutters or hire gutter technician to clean them out for you.

Inspect the roof for pooling water, noticeable stains, and missing or damaged shingles, specifically at or around the roofline.