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Common Rain Gutter Issues

Gutter in need of cleaningRain gutters are an integral part of many homes that assist with rerouting water fall away from sensitive roof lines where it can cause damage if left unattended. Gutters accomplish this by funneling water into downspouts that empty into the ground where it’s directed away from the foundation of a building. In addition to protecting roof lines, this process also keeps the ground surrounding a home or business from becoming water-logged and potentially causing damage to landscaping, ground-level structural siding, or even leaking into basements or crawlspaces.

rain gutter in need of servicesAs with any system, gutters are also prone to flaws and defects. Some of those problems can be minor and easily fixed by homeowners while others can be more serious and may need professional help. To determine if there are problems with your gutter system, there are several signs to look for that may indicate damage or obstruction.

• Stains on the underside of eaves.

• Stains around windows, walls and ceilings.

• Bubbling paint and rust running along the underside of the gutters.

Below is a list of five of the most common gutter problems that can be expected. This list involves standard gutters that have not been altered by aftermarket solutions such as gutter guards or screens. The list has been broken out into two sub-sections. The first sub-section contains minor problems that are relatively simple to fix and can be a do-it-yourself project. The second sub-section contains a list of more severe problems that may require the services of a professional.

Minor Problems:

Obstructed Gutters – Leaves and debris from trees and tall bushes are the number one cause of gutter malfunctions. In the dry season, this can be remedied with a shop vacuum or blower while in wet conditions the debris may need to be removed by hand.

Blocked Downspouts – These blockages are usually a bi-product of obstructed gutter systems where debris has built up inside the downspouts. Removal can be achieved by spraying out the debris with a hose, starting from the bottom opening and then spraying from the downspouts’ upper opening. If the clog persists, use a plumbers snake to remove any remaining obstruction.

Possibly Severe Problems:

Animal Infestations – Unwanted residency by critters such as squirrels, birds, rodents, snakes, and insects is a common problem with gutters. Depending on the type of animal and habitat, it may be necessary to call someone familiar with relocation or extermination techniques.

Structural Decay – Any system is prone to decay over time and gutters are no exception. As weather conditions constantly change from hot to cold over the seasons, the caulk and sealant used to bind gutter seams expands and retracts. This process can eventually lead to cracks and even separation that can cause a blockage or malfunction in process flow. In addition to seam faults, older gutters can become rusted and eventually crack. These cracks can release water flow into unwanted areas or even compromise the stability of the gutter attachment entirely.

Faulty Installation – This problem is possibly severe due to the far ranging scope of effect. Signs of faulty installation can vary greatly, but one of the most common is that of the outside edge of a gutter spouting being higher than the inside edge. When this happens, backlogged water will overflow the inside edge of the gutter and spill over into the adjacent eaves’ ceiling space and lining. In order to fix this issue, either overflow outlets will need to be drilled into the outside wall or the gutter brackets will need to be loosened to allow the outside edge to fall flush with the inside edge.


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