How Storms affect Your Gutters

Gutters are designed to deal with the elements – a gutter system in good working order is the best protection your home’s exterior could have. But there’s no denying that seasonal weather can give your gutters and downspouts a good workout. Knowing how fall and winter storms affect your gutters will help you help them protect your home.

Active winds can shake things up.

During winds storms, gutters can get rattled. Active winds can cause a number of problems for a gutter system that isn’t in the best of shape, one that has issues such as loose hardware, clogged channels, or blocked downspouts. Wind damage might include:

  • Knocked out gutter sections
  • Airborne debris deposited on the roof and in the gutters
  • Broken tree limbs
  • Denting (aluminum gutters) from airborne debris and the impact of high speed winds
  • Wind-induced metal fatigue
  • Disconnected downspouts from gutter outlets
  • Misaligned downspouts – still connected to the gutters but not held properly in place by the brackets

A windy day can also transform ordinary objects into projectiles: ensure toys, patio furniture, and other seasonal items currently not in use are secured or stored.

Heavy rainfalls can overwhelm a gutter system.

When a gutter system isn’t equipped to keep up with the volume of water that falls on the roof and flows into the gutters during an intense rainstorm or steady rainfall gutters can easily become overwhelmed. When the gutter trough is not the right size or is not sloped enough to facilitate unimpeded flow to the downspouts, rainwater can spill over the sides and down the siding.

If the gutters are cleaned regularly and appear to handle the volume of water even in heavy rainstorms but still overflow, the downspouts might be too small to cope with the amount of runoff exiting the gutter system. In either of these two scenarios, when the gutters and downspouts are no longer performing as efficiently as they did in the past, something has changed – the amount of annual rainfall, the intensity of the weather event, the slope or pitch of the gutters – a consultation with a gutter installation company will allow you to assess next steps: it doesn’t necessarily mean a new gutter system; the contractor might suggest readjusting the gutter pitch or upgrading the size of the downspouts.

Hail is like little hammers.

While we don’t experience a lot of hail storms here in the lower mainland, they do still occur on occasion. Hail typically accompanies thunderstorms (which are also rare in Metro Vancouver) and falls as pellets of icy rain. Even small hailstones can act like little hammers on aluminum gutters, denting gutter sections. Larger hailstones can puncture gutter sections, resulting in small holes and leaks.

Stormy weather could expose metal fatigue issues.

Aluminum gutters include components such as hangers, brackets, ferrules, nails, and screws. During stormy weather, and even in light winds, gutters move back and forth, exerting pressure on the fasteners that hold the gutter system together and in place. Over time, varying wind pressures can wear down aluminum gutters, resulting in meal fatigue and gutter troughs pulling away from the fascia or sagging gutter sections.

Snow and Ice can weigh gutters down.

While snow falling and hanging around in Vancouver is not usual, other areas of Metro Vancouver do experience snow storms. Heavy snow and icicles can add significant weight to a gutter system, causing gutter sections to shift or pull away from the fascia or break away completely. Icicles hanging from the eaves or the gutters can stop snow melt from entering the gutter channel, allowing ice dams to form.