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House Doc: Spring gutter maintenance

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    Bob Weinman
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    This photo shows a gutter extension that is too short and will leave water next to the foundation.
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    This photo shows a proper gutter extension that is directing water away from the foundation wall.
April 15, 2019 11:30 am Updated: April 15, 2019 11:40 am

 

When April showers fall upon your roof, it’s the job of your gutters to control and carry away all that water. You can pinpoint problems in your system if you take a few minutes to check the condition of your gutters and downspouts. Your annual spring inspection is a good place to start.

Put on your rain gear or grab an umbrella, and go outside during a heavy rain. Nothing else will give you such a graphic picture of how much water your gutters must handle — or how well they are doing their job. If you see water pouring out over the top of a downspout or flowing down your siding, you know you have some repairs to make to return your gutter system to working order. Older galvanized gutters that have developed holes or are rusting out should probably be replaced. Aluminum gutters and downspouts, however, will last much longer with periodic maintenance, provided that they haven’t been crushed by a ladder or car bumper, or deformed by excessive ice build-up. Gutters that are otherwise sound can sag out of alignment, usually because they are no longer securely fastened in place. (A “washed-out” area in the lawn below can indicate this problem, as the cascading water destroys the ground cover.)

When weather permits, climb a ladder to the gutter line and check the fascia board behind the gutter. This board can rot out, and you’ll have to replace it. If this needs to be done, contact a qualified contractor to perform this job.

You should also make sure your gutter extensions are long enough. These are the final pieces that carry the water from the downspout away from the foundation and onto the ground. The longer these are the less likely you will be to have water flowing back towards the foundation and potentially down against the foundation wall and into your basement.

This is the whole point of the gutter system — to keep water off the siding and away from the foundation. This simple and often overlooked system of your home is by far one of the most important. When working properly it can help keep your plantings safe, your gardens from washing away and your basement dry. By checking your gutters periodically, you can prevent the major headaches that water damage can cause.

Bob Weinman is the owner of Hudson Home Inspections. You can reach him at hudsonhomeinspectors@gmail.com or 518-821-7547.