How Gutters can put Your Home at Risk

A gutter system is designed to drain water from the roof and guide runoff out of the downspouts to a safe distance away from a home’s exterior. When they work, most homeowners forget about the gutters. In order to protect your home the way they should, gutters need regular home maintenance. Here are some ways rain gutters can put your home at risk if not well-maintained.

Gutters and Downspouts that Leak

Reasons gutters leak include worn seams; the system wasn’t installed correctly; and debris buildup in either the gutter trough or inside the downspouts or both. Typical places leaks occur are at:

  • The corners where gutter troughs join together
  • End caps (the end piece of a gutter section to keep water in)
  • The back of the gutter channel where there’s a gap between it and the fascia
  • The elbow (bottom) of a downspout

Leaking gutters and downspouts put your home at risk when water isn’t draining properly. Runoff escaping from a gutter system doesn’t harm just a home’s exterior. It can cause interior damage to walls and ceilings.  Prevent leaking gutters by inspecting the gutter system after heavy rain or windstorms for worn joints and seams and debris collecting around the gutter outlets. Repair worn seams and clean the gutters at least twice a year.

Sagging and Missing Gutters

When they haven’t been cleaned in a while, the collected debris and standing water in the gutter troughs can weigh a gutter system down, loosening hardware and allowing the gutters to pull away from the fascia. Sagging means a number of things to your home’s risk factor including:

  • Gutter troughs have become misaligned
  • Water can no longer flow through the system the way it should
  • Gutter material such as aluminum is susceptible to warping
  • Active winds might blow down sections, leaving a home exterior unprotected

To prevent sagging gutters, clean the gutter system once in the spring and once in the fall. When gutters are sagging, replace any gutter sections that became misshapen. Once the gutter system’s been repaired, realign the gutter slope

Cracks in the Foundation

When gutters do their job, they direct the rainwater away from your foundation. If gutters are allowed to constantly overflow, runoff can splash down siding and collect at the base of exterior walls. Moisture coming into contact with your foundation can seep into small fissures, cracks, and holes. When left unrepaired, cracks can become bigger, letting in more moisture – and so the cycle continues until the foundation is at risk of serious structural failure.

Damage to the Driveway

While moisture and your foundation is not a good combination, the same principle applies to your driveway and other hardscape elements such as a patio, steps, and the pathways on your property. If your driveway is near downspouts or a roof overhang, there is the risk of water damage to your driveway (or patio, entry doorsteps, etc.). Besides spoiling your curb appeal, runoff can cause soil washout, cracks, pitting, potholes, and discolouration.

Exterior Finishing Elements

Parts of the home’s exterior such as the soffit, fascia, siding, window trim, and door trim are typically constructed of wood, as is the very structure of your home. Excess water from a gutter system can result in wood rot, mould, and structural failure. To avoid water damage to exterior finishing elements, clean the gutters and inspect the gutter system for loose or missing hardware.

Roof Damage

Pooling rainwater can seep under roofing shingles, resulting in leaks, mould growth, and a rotting roof deck. Water that sits on a roof eventually damages the shingles. Overflowing gutters can also splash up into the soffit and fascia. When excess moisture results in moss growth and pooled water in roof valleys, it can add additional weight to the roofing system, making existing structural damage more unstable.