Why are gutters so important to my house?

Understanding the importance of gutters may prevent costly home repair bills in the future.
Most homeowners don't spend a lot of time thinking about their gutters, but understanding their importance may prevent costly home repair bills in the future.

Gutters funnel water off of the roof and away from your home, which protects your siding, windows, doors and foundation from water damage. While that sounds important, many homeowners don't realize how much damage can occur when their gutters are clogged, leaking, or broken. When gutters aren't functioning properly, rainwater runs off the roof of the house and collects on the ground near the foundation.Heavy rains can result in standing pools of water, which can cause a multitude of problems.

Gutters protect your home from:
  • Home and basement flooding

  • Cracked/damaged foundation

  • Infestations - Mosquitoes and other insects breed in standing water

  • Mold - overflowing gutters create an environment for mold to flourish in crawlspaces and basements

  • Erosion:Topsoil protects the foundation of your home.If water is not correctly diverted away from your home the topsoil will erode and leave your foundation vulnerable.

  • Staining to the exterior of your home fascia, soffit, wood framing and outside walls as well as decks, patios, driveways and walkways

  • Paint damage

  • Rotting/Rusting of exterior building products

  • Damage to landscaping ? fungi can damage or kill your flowers and trees
If the list sounds somewhat dramatic, remember that you don't have to live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions to suffer the effects of clogged or damaged gutters.Consider this startling fact:experts estimate that one inch of rain on an average sized house roof creates about 500 gallons of rainwater runoff.Now think back to the last rainfall in your area.One inch of rain doesn't seem like much — imagine the volume of water hitting your roof in a heavy rainstorm!I bet you are thinking about your gutters now!No need to panic and rush out to buy a brand new expensive gutter system.A simple maintenance routine will keep your gutters working properly and avoid the problems outlined above.

Maintenance

Gutters should be cleaned twice a year, in early spring and late fall.

"Have your gutters checked to be sure they aren't pulling away from the house. If they are, talk to a gutter installation professional about changing the spikes holding the gutters to screws. Screws do a much better job of holding the gutters in place," says Jim Radcliffe, co-founder of Medallion Inspections in Atlanta. "And make sure your downspouts are clear and not blocked by leaves, and that the water from gutters, downspouts, and around the house flows at least 10 feet away from your house."

Many homeowners prefer to clean their own gutters, while others hire a gutter expert to do the cleaning for a reasonable cost.The cost of hiring a professional to clean your gutters is a pittance compared to the money you'll spend on repairs to your home if they aren't functioning properly.

If you are cleaning the gutters yourself, make sure to check for rusted spots, dents and holes, broken gutter hangers, and disconnected joints.Repair or replace any problem areas.

For information on how to clean your gutters or decide whether you want to hire a professional, please see our article Should I clean my gutters myself?

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