20 Nov Repair or Replace – What to Look for When Inspecting Your Gutters In Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, rain gutters are an important if understandably overlooked part of almost every home. When gutters are doing their job, they quickly and efficiently move water off the roof and away from the house. Rain gutters must handle a surprising volume of water and sometimes in a very short time. A gutter system on a typical 2000 square foot Massachusetts bungalow will move more than 1200 gallons of water for each inch of rain. If your gutter system is not functioning properly the problem can quickly become serious. When inspecting your gutters, knowing what to look for and recognizing problems early is a good way to avoid letting the situation become even more serious and costly.
Inspecting Your Gutters or Having Them Inspected Annually…
… is good preventive maintenance but often in the real world, those kinds of things get put off until another day. Keeping an eye out for potential problems while you go about your regular routine at home and knowing what to look for can serve as an important first step in keeping your gutters working properly.
When you do identify a problem then your next step will be deciding what to do about it. Sometimes the short term expense of replacing your gutters will save you much more than the long term cost of ignoring the problem or trying to get by with less than adequate repairs.
Knowing when you can repair a minor problem and when replacing your gutters is a better option can save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run. Here is what to look for when inspecting your gutters.
Signs of Trouble
The first signs of trouble may not seem like much. You might notice the basement seems damp or smells of mold. Maybe you have noticed puddles near the house when it rains or there are streaks forming on your gutters or the siding of your house. You may think it’s just a cosmetic thing or a minor inconvenience but this is the time to take a closer look. What seems like a small problem now may be a signal that bigger problems are just down the road or already there but still hidden.
When it Rains
While you might prefer to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea when it’s raining outside, this is your golden opportunity to check on the health of your gutters and make sure they are protecting your house.
Look at the drainage around your foundation. Are there signs of erosion or pooling near the house? Is water flowing into cracks along the driveway or walkway? If you can you see water flowing across the driveway or walkway, is it flowing away from the house?
- Check your downspouts. Is water running along the outside of the downspout? Are there obvious cracks or gaps along the downspout or at joints or elbows? Is the water from the downspout being directed to a splash block? Is the splash block and grade sloped away from the house or is water running back toward the foundation wall? Your downspout should be directed at a splash block sloping away from the house and water from the splash block should be deposited at least two feet from the house.
Look at the gutters and eaves. Are there any leaks or is water overflowing the gutter? Are there areas where water is noticeably running down the side of the house? Do all of the gutters appear to be securely attached?
From the Ground
Although not the best vantage point to spot problems before they get out of hand, inspecting your gutters from the ground is easy to do and can give you a heads up that you need to take a closer look. Walk around your house slowly to look for signs of developing problems. This is a good habit to develop to help find all kinds of home maintenance issues and take care of them before they become a big problem.
Look for foundation wall cracks that may indicate an area where water is collecting and entering the house. Make sure to pull back shrubs and plantings to see if anything might be hidden. Look for discoloration on the siding and streaking on the underside of your rain gutters. This may be a sign that the gutters are clogged and water is overflowing and running down the house.
While looking at the gutters and downspouts check for any protruding nails or screws that may indicated the gutters or downspouts are pulling away from the house. Are there any obvious missing or loose pieces or gaps in the gutter or between the gutter and the fascia? Are there signs of rust, particularly along seams and at joints?
Ultimately you may need or want to go up on the roof to get a closer look at your gutters. Before you go up on your roof it’s important to think carefully about the risks you are exposing yourself to.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified falls as the #1 cause of death among construction workers. Since homeowners are not regulated by OSHA, they are often unaware of the dangers of working on ladders and roofs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 40 workers per year die from falls off residential roofs.
OSHA responded in 2011 by eliminating exceptions that allowed residential construction workers to use “alternative” fall protection measures. OSHA now recommends a full body harness with a shock absorbing lanyard or retractable lifeline secured in such a way that it will arrest a fall. This safety equipment is to be used in any situation where a worker is exposed to a potential fall of six feet or more.
On the Roof
Look for any buildup of debris or water pooling around downspouts. If there is a moderate amount of leaves and small debris in the gutter you can often use a leaf blower or rinse the gutters out with a garden hose. Inspect the inside of the gutters for any signs of rust or damage once you have removed the debris. Look at interior screws and fasteners for signs of rust or tearing out.
Look at the fascia board and check for signs of moisture or rot. If there is standing water in your gutters that is not due to a buildup of debris you may need to check the slope of your gutters. Houses can occasionally settle unevenly enough to change the direction of flow or the gutters may have been installed incorrectly. Place a spirit level along the bottom of the gutter. The bubble should be slightly to the side opposite the desired direction of flow.
If Leaves and Debris Are the Problem
If debris is regularly causing your gutters to clog then you need to consider having an effective gutter guard system installed. We are the exclusive installer of Master Shield gutter guards in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island for good reason. Before going out and buying a gutter guard system, we recommend you read the information about Master Shield on this site and contact us about installing a Master Shield system on your gutters.
Repair or Replace
Often minor damage caused by ice, wind or falling branches can be repaired without replacing your gutters. You can easily replace screws that have torn out and damaged hanging brackets. Small holes larger than a nail hole can be patched with a piece of flashing cut half an inch larger than the hole and secured with gutter sealant. Leaky end caps, joints and downspouts can also be fixed with gutter sealant. Damaged sections of gutter and corners can also be replaced although this is often a step above a do-it-yourself project.
It is time to replace your gutters if either:
A) Your gutters are not performing.
B) The cost or aesthetics of continued repairs is unsatisfactory.
If, for whatever reason, your gutters are not able to effectively move water off the roof and away from the house then it is time to replace them. There are many possible reasons for this including improperly installed gutters, gutters that are too small for the size of your roof and Massachusetts weather or simply the deterioration of your gutters. Non-performing gutters can damage your home, your yard and create costly problems down the road.
Even when a problem can be repaired it may be that continuing to repair a gutter system that is deteriorating is not economical. The appearance of the repairs also may not be in keeping with the beauty of your home. If you live in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island and find yourself in this situation you should call us now at 800.562.1289.