After years of experience roofing Newnan, GA homes, at least one thing becomes clearly evident: that not having gutters on your home is, in some respects, similar to not having shingles on your roof. Really, it’s inviting rain to damage your home and bring unnecessary anxiety to your life. But while installing gutters is an important step in protecting the integrity of your home, it’s not the whole story. There’s much to know about when and how to maintain your gutters and in some cases when to replace your gutters.
One way to think of gutters is to view them as an external version of your home’s plumbing system. Your home’s plumbing system helps to properly channel water to where it should go and to keep it from going where it shouldn’t go. And a home’s gutter system does exactly that, just on the outside of your home rather than on the inside. That being the case, how many responsible home owners would opt not to ensure their home has a properly installed and maintained plumbing system?
Still, some homeowners might not think as seriously about installing and maintaining a gutter system. So if you don’t have gutters, you’d be wise to consider the reasons why you should install gutters. And if you already have gutters on your home, you’d be wise to consider how to properly maintain your home’s gutter system.
Also important is to realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all gutter system. You could have the most expensive, highest quality, longest lasting gutter system. But if it’s not installed properly or the nature of the system doesn’t complement the configuration of your home, you’re basically setting up for potential failure and possible damage to your home.
Hiring a roofer or other contractor to analyze your house and recommend a gutter system is one way to ensure a proper fit and installation. A gutter system could be all for naught if the gutters are poorly fastened to the house, poorly connected to other segments of the system, or aimed toward the home’s foundation (gutter spouts should always be aimed away from the foundation). On the other hand, if you currently have a gutter system and you want to analyze it yourself by using a ladder, be careful not to lean the ladder against the gutter itself, as, ironically, that could damage the very gutter system you’re inspecting for damage.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG WITH BAD GUTTERS
Whether you have bad gutters or no gutters at all, both scenarios can create similar problems. For example, without a gutter system you’re opening up the possibility for the following to happen:
– soil around the home is destabilized, leading to foundation problems
– basement flooding
– water damage to siding and paint
– water staining of exterior masonry work
– premature cracking and settling of sidewalks
– premature deterioration of exterior doors and garage doors
Bad gutters can also lead to such problems, although it may take longer for these problems to manifest themselves. However, there are problems more specific to having bad gutters. These include the following:
– water or ice buildup in the gutters, leading to damaged eaves, fascia, soffit, or roof
– water leaking into walls and other areas of the home
– pooled water giving mosquitoes a chance to proliferate around your home
– buildup of dried leaves, creating a fire hazard
– mold damage
In short, then, this is the situation: no gutters = high risk of home damage; bad gutters = high risk of home damage. What determines when gutters will go bad is partially dependent on the material your gutters are made from. Aluminum gutters, for example, may last about 20 to 30 years or longer; copper gutters, roughly 50 or more years; steel gutters, perhaps 20 years or less; and vinyl gutters, possibly even less than that.
Regardless of what your gutters are made from, though, keeping your gutters cleaned out is one simple action you can take to help prevent your gutters from going bad prematurely.
IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING GUTTERS CLEANED OUT
As noted above, you can think of your gutter system as an exterior version of your home’s plumbing system. When there’s a clog in your plumbing system, the system doesn’t work properly, leading to disruption of your daily routine and potentially to leaks and more serious damage to your home. The same scenario is true in the case of your home’s gutter system.
Really anything can clog a gutter. But among the most common culprits are leaves, pine cones, and pine needles. Gutter covers are available to prevent such debris from collecting in your gutters. However, when clogs do occur, a prompt cleaning will keep additional problems from happening. The frequency with which you may have to do this depends on the position of your home’s gutters relative to trees, the types of trees, and the slope of your roof. So if you have trees within ten feet of your roof, it’s possible you’d need to clean out your gutters at least twice year, possibly more.
Even if you don’t have any trees near you, it doesn’t exempt you from keeping an eye on your gutters for the need to clean them. If you have asphalt shingles, for example, the granules from those shingles can progressively break free and, over time, collect in your gutter to the point of obstructing water flow. If you live in an area where rodents or other pests are known to infest or nest nearby outside, then this is another reason why periodically you should inspect your gutters. And if you live in an area where winters are cold and snow and ice are commonplace, springtime is a good time to take a look at your gutters. The weight of snow and ice over the winter months can wreak havoc on a gutter system.
Furthermore, even if you have a cover installed on your gutters in an attempt to keep out the leaves, you still need to check your gutters and possibly clean them out. Depending on the nature of your gutter system, gutter covers can sometimes be more trouble than their worth by sometimes trapping leaves in the gutter instead of keeping the leaves out. Beyond that, some gutter covers work a little too well in terms of hard rain. While these covers effectively keep out leaves and other debris, it also prevents hard rain from entering the gutter, thereby defeating the purpose of having gutters in the first place.
Therefore, regularly inspecting your gutters — particularly in the fall months when there’s more potential for debris buildup because of falling leaves — is only to your advantage. Another good time to inspect your gutters is after a gusty, damaging storm. Even if you can’t readily see any damage to your gutters or home after such a storm, an inspection is still a good idea, as there could still be damage from the wind that isn’t easily visible. And even if there is no damage, some cleanup or maintenance may be warranted.
HOW TO KNOW YOU NEED NEW GUTTERS
There does come the time, though, when maintenance alone isn’t sufficient and you need to replace your gutters. Outside of taking note of the typical life span for your gutter system or the limit of your gutter system’s warranty, there are other indications that your system may need to be replaced, including the following:
– Peeling paint or rust specks may indicate that water is pooling in the gutter and not flowing properly, thereby degrading the integrity of the gutter’s material. If this is the case, your gutters should be replaced.
– Water marks on exterior walls underneath your gutters indicate leaking or overflowing water, and that your gutters aren’t doing their job. Failing to take action at this point could damage your home’s soffit or fascia board.
– Any small cracks in your gutters aren’t an immediate problem, but they have the potential to turn into a bigger problem if you don’t replace your gutters soon enough. Small cracks lead to big cracks, and big cracks lead to leaks and eventual damage to your fascia board, shingles, exterior walls, or your home’s foundation.
– Perhaps the most obvious reason why your gutter system may need total replacement is any evidence of sagging. Such sagging indicates that your gutter can’t handle the load of water coming off your roof, isn’t draining properly, or is clogged up with debris. Gutters that aren’t sagging but are pulling away from your home also indicate one of the aforementioned problems.
– Another blatant warning sign of a compromised system is if you spot vegetation sprouting from your gutters. This is also symptomatic of water obstruction and debris collection.
Overall, having a gutter system means having a multifaceted investment in your home. It’s an investment in the sense that it carries a cost to install and pays off in preventing costly damage to your home’s exterior, interior, and foundation. It’s also an investment in the sense of a time commitment. It requires time for you to regularly inspect your gutters, clean your gutters, repair your gutters, or possibly even replace your gutters. But it’s a worthy investment. It’s an important system that protects the integrity and value of your home, in a way similar to how your plumbing system protects your home’s value and integrity.
Given the importance of such an investment, consulting with a contractor who’s experienced in roofing Newnan, GA homes could benefit you. Such contractors cast a professional, experienced eye on your current gutter system or, if you don’t yet have a gutter system, on what kind of system would best fit your home. Whatever you decide, though, you can be sure that a clean, well-maintained gutter system customized to the nuances of your home will save you money, protect your investment, and will allow you to do what every homeowner wants to do: to enjoy the satisfaction of owning and living in a quality home. And if you do want the assurance of having a professional consultation, local roofers in Newnan, GA are standing by and ready to lend a helping hand.