It’s the middle of August, kids are going back to school and Labor Day is just around the corner. You know what that means – fall is coming and with it comes falling leaves and other organic matter as Mother Nature begins to shut down for the coming winter.
It’s inevitable that some of those leaves, or pine needles, or other airborne debris is going to end up on your roof and in your gutters. Equally inevitable is that some of those gutters are going to clog.
Your rain gutter system is one of your first lines of defense against basement water problems. As we’ve discussed when talking about downspouts, the average roof sheds 1500 gallons of water for each inch of rainfall and your gutters have to be capable of handling that flow. Assuming that the gutter system as installed is adequate for your house, the problem is clogging, which is easily preventable.
Regular Cleaning – Yep, it’s a huge pain in the neck but gutters need to be cleaned, at least twice a year. That means dragging out the ladder and digging out those soggy globs of leaves, pine cones, bird nests and whatever other stuff has found its way in there over the summer. Everybody has their favorite method and tools but, whether you use your bare hands or a leaf blower, you have to get them clean.
Gutter Caps or Screens – There seem to be about as many products available to keep junk out of your gutter as there are brands of breakfast cereal, but there are only two basic types. There’s the cap style that puts a solid top over the gutter and relies on surface tension to keep water flowing under a lip and into the gutter. And, there is the screen style that places a porous lid on your gutter that allows water to drain through and keeps out debris. Many of these work just fine, although they still require some maintenance.
Overflow next to Foundation – One of the worst consequences of having clogged gutters is that rain water will sheet over the gutters and end up, you guessed it, right next to your foundation. From there it’s only a short trip into your basement through a crack, window well or the cove joint. There are enough unpreventable factors that can cause basement seepage; why create one for yourself?
Sagging Gutters – Most gutters today are made of aluminum, a great material because it is lightweight and doesn’t rust. However, the walls of aluminum gutters are thin and flexible so, if water backs up behind a clog, it can actually bend the outer wall of the gutter and create a permanently sagging spot that may spill water even when the gutters are clean.
Ice Dams – After fall comes winter and that means snow and ice. If you head into cold weather with clogged gutters, all that water is going to freeze and contribute to ice dams if you have any problems with ventilation under your roof. The ice dams, in turn, may cause your roof to leak. Also, expansion caused by freezing will do further damage to the gutter.
As you can see, problems with your gutters can lead not only to water in your basement but a host of other problems in and around your home. Whether you clean them yourself or hire a professional to do it, make sure you clean them.
We’re not in the gutter business at U.S. Waterproofing but we do our best to help homeowners understand and prevent the causes of water in their basements. After all, we’ve waterproofed more than 300,000 basements since 1957 so we know all the ways water can get in and how to keep it out. Why not ask for our free advice?
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