Your gutters are important – do you know why?

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Well installed, quality gutters are a critical part of every home. On the west coast in particular we experience a higher than average percentage of rainfall due to our Coastal Rainforest climate. To help protect your home from the damage that undirected water runoff can cause, it is important to ensure your gutter system is working efficiently. Old or damaged gutters that overflow or leak badly can contribute to a number of undesirable issues in and around your home, including but not limited to:

Fascia Damage – gutters that are damaged or not maintained properly will overflow and / or leak. The primary area for damage is the wood fascia boards the gutter is fastened to. Consistent flow of water against the fascias can result in rot, structural damage to the fascia and ruin the paint on the fascia boards. A common sign where gutters are leaking or overflowing is dark patches on the fascia board under the gutter – commonly seen at corners. If left too long, it is not uncommon to require complete replacement of the fascia prior to installing new gutters – easily doubling the cost of the gutter work on its own.

Landscape Damage – overflowing and / or leaking gutters will spill water onto the ground. Continuously spilling water from the roofline will damage your landscaping including: killing vegetation, serious erosion, pooling of water in the yard.

Cladding Damage – the other issue when water spills onto the ground, particularly when the ground is firm or paved / concrete, is the water will splatter; and depending on the length of overhang the water will be splattering onto your cladding. Over time, a continuous splatter of water will damage any cladding – wood, cement board, stucco, brick, stone, even vinyl. If the splatter is consistent and significant enough it could allow moisture ingress into your exterior wall cavity – leading to structural issues or indoor air quality (mold) issues.

Foundation Damage – uncontrolled water run-off originating from a damaged and / or leaking gutter system allows water to pool against the foundation of the home. This can be a serious issue – maintaining the gutter system, including the in-ground perimeter drainage is critical to the long term health of the house. Water allowed to pool against a concrete foundation will eventually find its way into or under the crawlspace or basement. Uncontrolled water can and will compromise the structural integrity of your home’s foundation by various means including: erosion of the ground beneath and around the foundation / footing and fracturing the concrete through the winter months when the water freezes.

Indoor Air Quality / Moisture Issues – Once inside the foundation the moisture will quickly make its way into the living area of the home – particularly in the shoulder & winter seasons through ‘stack effect’. High humidity in the home, mold in upper areas of the house and moisture on the inside of windows are all commonly caused by moisture originating in the basement or crawlspace. All of these issues affect indoor air quality and ultimately your health.

Roof Damage – the moisture that is drawn into your living space from the basement / crawlspace doesn’t stop there – its ultimate destination is your attic. Most attic floors are not air-sealed – in shoulder and winter seasons as you heat the air in your living space it rises into the attic, drawing new air in from the basement / crawlspace and through exterior walls. When the humid air reaches the attic it condenses on the underside of the roof sheathing and shingles and often drips into the insulation below, trapping it in the attic and compromising the function of the insulation. In the hotter seasons, the trapped moisture humidifies the air and helps to superheat the attic space – accelerating the degradation of the roof shingles and sheathing. It is not uncommon for moisture found in your attic to have originated in your basement and not through a leak in your roofing.