Gutters are the underappreciated hero of your home. Rarely noticed, until something is wrong, gutters are vital for ensuring our homes do not flood inside of the house and route water that would be resting, away from the property. Although every gutter system has an expiration date from installation, many times we forget, or were never aware of when the installation took place, so knowing the telltale signs of when it is time for gutter and downspout replacement, is extremely important when it comes to maintaining your property.
Cracks in the gutters
Gutters with cracks in them are essentially useless. Cracks or other signs of destruction are the most obvious reason to replace your gutters. The purpose of gutters is to take water away from your roof and home and if water is falling through the cracks in the gutters, the system has failed its purpose.
Small cracks may not be visible with the naked eye, so it will be important to go out in the rain every once in awhile, or even just glance up when you are pulling into your driveway during a storm, to see if there is any water that seems to drip from the gutters onto the ground below. While small isolated cracks can usually be prepared, large cracks, or excessive cracking all the way around, will call for parts of the gutters being replaced completely.
Stress at the Seams
Most gutters have seams where two horizontal surfaces meet, such as between the gutter and the edge of the roof. These areas are vulnerable and can cause the gutters to fall away or create floor problems when too much stress is put on the seams.
During dry times, you probably do not think about your gutters at all, but this is the time when they can be sustaining the most damage. Leaves, twigs, and other debris from trees will fill up the gutters creating weight that puts stress on the seams. If the buildup in the gutters is not cleared, a sudden rain storm will cause the debris to get stuck in the down spout causing the gutters to overflow which is a problem inside and outside of the home.
When gutters backup and overflow, this can create roof leaks and damage to shingles. Keeping your gutters clean and up to date will save you a lot of hassle in maintaining your roof. The problems faced outside will include large muddy areas, landscaping that gets washed away, and standing water. All of these will cost more money to repair and fix as they get damaged because of stressed seams on your gutters.
Not replacing your gutter system at the right time, and not acknowledging the signs of replacement, can cause a lot of damage to your home that you might not notice right away. When you do finally survey the damage, the destruction may be much worse than you originally anticipated before surveying.
Some signs of excess damage are paint peeling and rot. By the time your property has these symptoms, you are way past the expiration date on your gutter installation. Poor gutter function can ruin a great paintjob by causing bubbling and peeling from excess water that gets trapped under the surface.
If you notice paint peeling on a specific area of your home’s exterior, the first thing you should do is look up and see if the paint on the gutters in that area is peeling as well. Many times this will indicate that you can repair that section of gutters, repaint, and everything will be fine. If you notice that the paint is peeling all over the exterior of your home and the gutters, a complete replacement will be the only solution to the excess moisture problem with your gutters.
Rot will much more of a concern than peeling paint however. When water sits on wood for extended periods of time, this causes rot. When your wood rots, the solution is much more labor intensive than a quick gutter repair or paint job. Rotting windows and doors will create rot in the drywall and allow for drafts, water and mildew to enter the home and wreak havoc on the interior. Water damaged drywall and trim will need to be replaced and repainted along with replacement of your gutters.
Mildew is a common problem in basements where excess water goes unchecked. Downspouts purposefully navigate water at least six feet from your home to decrease the likelihood of water entering your basement or foundation. Mildew looks and smells bad and can ruin carpeting, furniture and wallpaper. Removal of mildew can be expensive and labor intensive as well. Check your basement or cellar regularly for signs of mildew so that you can replace your gutters and fix the problem before it gets out of hand.
Keep on Keepin’ on
Keeping up the maintenance on your gutters may seem like a daunting task. NO one wants to climb up and down on a ladder or sit on their roof all day trying to clean their gutter system and check for damage. Keeping up on these tasks will prevent many issues that will be expensive in both time and money to fix.
Landscaping and yard care companies will typically offer gutter cleaning services and these people are fully insured against falling off your roof or their own ladders. If you are physically unable to, or just don’t want to or have the time to maintain your gutter system, you should definitely consider investing in a company to perform this task for you.
There are also many places that offer special gutter guards to block debris from getting into your gutters. This is not a cure all however, and regularly surveying your home, both inside and out, along with your gutters and down spouts for the issues mentioned above will still need to be a part of your quarterly home maintenance. Replacing your gutters can be one of the single most important aspects of your home’s health and beauty in the long term.