We should probably start with the obvious; if you do not have gutters on your home, we HIGHLY suggest you get them installed as soon as possible. Gutter water is a tremendous driving force when it comes to the movement of your Foundation Walls. Not only that, the water from gutters, many times, penetrates the foundation, flooding the basement.
Cleaning Your Gutters
When asked if their gutters are clean, most customers respond “Yes.” Ask how often they clean the gutters, and most people answer that they are cleaned 2 times a year. For some reason, this has become the “norm” for cleaning gutters. The problem is, trees have THOUSANDS of leaves each, and they do not just fall during the fall.
So, how often should I clean my gutters? It is vitally important to clean your gutters regularly, once a month, in order to maintain proper water drainage around your home. Think about it, when do leaves fall, other than the obvious? During storms, especially with high wind and rain. As we have these happen quite often nowadays, it is crucial that gutter maintenance is handled properly, and often.
What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Gutters?
- Driveway damage – If water pours over the side of your home, it can slowly cause your concrete, brick, or paver driveway to deteriorate.
- Water damage – Needless to say, any type of water damage can ruin the value and structure of your home or foundation.
- Roof damage – If water begins to sit on top of your roof, it can start to ruin your framing, shingles, or tiles.
- Mold growth – When water begins to sit anywhere, it can lead to mold growth.
- Bugs, insects, and pests – Fruit flies and mosquitos are known to leave eggs and build nests in puddles of water. If your gutters are filled with water, this could lead to an unwanted infestation. (You’ll need to call pest control for this.)
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: In 1,000 Square Feet of Roof Space, you will produce approximately 600 gallons of water from a SINGLE INCH OF RAIN. Scale for your home, and you will find on average most homes get well over 1,000 gallons of water from one inch of rain. If not properly handled, this water starts to do what water does, it finds a way.
Water doesn’t care if your Foundation Wall is I 0n the way, it will push and push and push until it forms a crack in the wall. Or it will build and build and build until it seeps up from under the floor. Worse yet, it can gather on the outside of the wall and force that wall inwards! It can even wash out the dirt and soil underneath the foundation, allowing it to sink into the ground.
Most commonly, we will see gutter overflow at corners and in the middle of the gutter. Telltale signs can include small trenches parallel with the house, under the gutter. These are formed when constant water is overflowing and hitting the ground, compacting the dirt. *Easy tell-tale sign that it’s time for your to clean your gutters and stay on top of maintenance. *
Gutter guards can be a good thing, but most products out there are actually detrimental to your home. The famous As-Seen-On-TV gutter guards, which reduce the opening on the gutter to a sliver, are the worst kind you can get for water management. While they will never clog, this is true, they cannot handle heavy rain. So as soon as we get on of our Chicago-typical rains over 1 inch, the water literally flows right over that slit and into your yard. What’s the point of a gutter guard that only protects you in LIGHT rain?
There are other systems out there as well. Foam can be inserted into the gutter, blocking leaves and debris but allowing water. This open-cell foam can be very useful and allow a lot of water to get into and flow within the gutters. They do not allow as much flow to the downspouts, but the volume handled is certainly better than the above TV-Brand.
Another type of guard comes in different forms. It is a screen that is installed over the top of the gutter. This screen allows water in but leaves and debris to wash over the gutter. These can be very good, as long as you get the right kind. A few tips on finding the right screen gutter guards:
- The more holes, the better. Some screens have more surface area blocked by the space between the holes. This is the same as the TV-Brand where it does not allow enough water in the gutter system.
- A SCREEN is the best. It allows the most water in, while filtering out the leaves that would otherwise clog the system.
- Hire a professional! While it is tempting to do it yourself, if you do not get it installed correctly, you could actually make the problem worse!
While Gutter Guards are a good investment, as long as you get the proper ones, it is still vitally important to clean them regularly. Regularly meaning, once a month. Leaves and debris clog the gutters, allowing for overflow. This water will build up and damage your foundation, while also flooding your basement. Most foundation problems we find are due to improper discharge of gutter water and overflowing gutters. Be sure to call a qualified professional out to evaluate and give you a good solution for your gutter water in your home.
Thanks for reading, and as always:
“Not Everything’s Better When Wet”