All too often we treat gutters as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue. After all, they’re far above the height of things we typically notice, and until we see them overflowing (or worse, falling down) we have a tendency to ignore them. That can be a costly mistake. Here’s why.
What’s wrong with clogged gutters?
The problem with having clogged, blocked gutters is far more than aesthetic in nature. While having sticks and leaves visible, or noticing waterfalls from the roof edge after a downpour (or heavy icicles during the winter) may be less than ideal in terms of your building’s appearance, the long term consequences of not maintaining clean gutters are far more severe than simply looking untidy. There are several issues at play:
Clogged gutters have several issues which result in their weighing too much to be properly supported. First, of course, there’s the matter of the debris itself. Second, if the gutters are clogged, water cannot flow through, and trapped water contributes to the weight problem. Finally, debris like leaves and sticks absorb water, which means that even if some water is still trickling through, your gutters are supporting far more weight than is recommended. If the problem becomes severe enough, the gutters could pull away from the building, damaging the building and becoming damaged themselves. Of course, falling gutters also represent a safety hazard.
When water isn’t being properly dispersed through the gutters, it overflows. That can result in unsightly water damage on the exterior of the building. Even more damaging are the results if the water ends up infiltrating the walls themselves, especially if this goes unnoticed until the material behind the siding begins to rot.
Roof and tile damage
Water itself isn’t usually damaging to roofs or shingles, but ice is. As water freezes in the gutters, it will expand, pushing up against the edge of the roof and tiles. This can also create a barrier that results in standing water (and eventually ice) on the roof, which can lead to serious long-term damage.
Damage to the building’s foundation
Finally, if water is allowed to run down the side of the building rather than being drained away at a distance, this can actually cause permanent damage to the building’s foundations. Cracks in the foundation can lead to flooding in basements and crawl spaces, and result in the need for costly repairs.
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