Gutters and Downspouts – Common Inspection Defects

Gutters and downspouts are one the most important components in controlling stormwater around your home.  Properly installed and functioning gutters and downspouts effectively move water away from the home, preventing it from saturating the perimeter and foundation.  Poorly installed and maintained gutters and downspouts can result in water infiltrating the home, resulting in foundation issues, damage to the homes components, and the development of mildew and mold.

It's typical to find damaged and poorly installed gutter components when performing inspections.  As damaged occurs, it often goes unnoticed until other issues develop.  Here is a rundown of the most common gutter and downspout defects we find.

Leaking Joints and Seams

Leaking gutter seams.Unless your gutters were made onsite by a professional installer, chances are they have seams every 10 feet.  These connections are typically sealed with a specialized gutter sealant that’s breaks down with age.  You will also find sealant at corners and at endcaps.  Seams and joints should be inspected and repaired as a part of your routine maintenance plan.

Downspouts Discharging at the Foundation Perimeter

Downspout discharging at foundation.As your gutters clear storm water from the roof, it channels it towards the downspouts that discharge around your.  Downspouts that lack extensions allow water to pool around the home, which overtime can compromise the foundation.  Homes with pooling water around the perimeter, can suffer from settlement resulting in foundation cracking and expensive repairs.  Moisture wicking through the foundation perimeter into the home can also lead to a variety of other problems; including mold, wood rot, poor indoor air quality, and attractive insects.   Make sure your downspouts are extended away from the home by 5-6 feet.

Gutters and Downspots Clogged with Debris

Gutter cloggedwith debris and leaves.Clogged gutters and downspouts prevent water from properly draining, allowing runoff to spill over the sides and pour down your walls.  This results in water pooling or ponding around your foundation.  Make clearing your gutters a part of your spring and fall routine maintenance plan.

Loose, Missing and Damaged Gutters and Downspouts

Missing downspout. Common inspection defect.Missing and damaged gutters and downspouts, or ones that are no longer adequately secured, allow runoff to run down the side of the building.  Oftentimes, loose and missing gutters and downspouts have been caused by mechanical damage (i.e. tree branches, ladders against gutters, lawnmowers, etc.) which has damaged the fasteners.  Check to make sure your gutter brackets or spikes are fully secured to help keep your gutters functioning, and replace damaged and missing sections.

Improper Gutter Slope

Gutter full of water.Gutters should slope at a ¼ inch for every 5-10 feet.  If installed below this slope, they will not effectively move water to downspouts.  When installed above this slope, they allow water to move at too great of a speed, potentially overflowing at endcaps and corners.  Monitor your gutters during rain to ensure proper function.

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