If you’ve owned a home for a while, you know that water entering the home can be at least a hassle and at worst a cause of major destruction. Not only should keeping water from sneaking into those tiny cracks and crevices be a priority, it could make the difference between owning an asset and owning a money pit. One of the primary ways to protect your home from undesirable moisture is installing gutters.
Most people think that the sole purpose of rain gutters is to direct water coming off the roof toward downspouts to keep it from dripping on their heads over doorways. The value of gutters is much more that that, however. Not only that, water moving off a roof can roll under the drip edge of the roof and seep under soffits and eaves, weakening the wood. It seeps between the joints or masonry and the framework, exposing your home to mold and other damage. If subject to freezing temperatures, the water inside the wood freezes and swells, causing internal damage to beams, joists and framing. Another benefit to rain gutters and downspouts is controlling the flow of water away from your home and off your property.
When water is controlled, instead of just pouring off of the roof slope, it can:
– Prevent damage to siding.
– Prevent staining on brickwork.
– Preserve overhead garage doors and exterior doors from damage.
– Stabilize soil and the home’s foundation.
– Prevent sidewalks, patios and driveways from settling and landscaping from erosion.
– Protect basements and crawlspaces from flooding.
Doing gutters right
There is much more to gutter installation than simply hanging them from the eaves. In order for gutters to function correctly, they need to have the correct pitch. In general, the gutters should drop one inch in slope for every ten feet in length so that the water runs toward the downspout rather than pooling up in a low spot.
Check your gutters to make certain they are correctly sloped by placing a hose at the closed end of your gutter and allow the running water to gently flow into and through the gutter. Water should only flow toward the downspout.
Downspouts matter too
Make certain that your downspout actually direct the water away from the structure of your home. Optimal would be extending the terminal end of the downspout several feet away from your home’s foundation or onto a concrete or vinyl downspout extension. Alternatively, install underground drainage that leads away from your home’s foundation to the street gutter, or to a drywell.
In the picture on the right, the downspout is 3 inches from the wall of the home. When there is rain, the 3 inch drain is designed to carry the water away from the property. The downspout and the drain are to close to the foundation. If the rain is heavy, water could seep into the wall and down to the foundation. The above picture shows the downspout going straight into the drain. No water can escape. In the rare case of a monsoon microburst, there is a larger 6 inch drain that can take up any additional water. The drain funnel is designed to enter at an angle causing a vacuum effect to suck up water fast. Two other downspouts next to the home were re-engineered to eliminate potential corrosion (see below). At the same time the drainpipe was enlarged all the way to the edge of the property to accommodate more flow and push the water into the natural ravine behind the home. For most homes this might be the street gutters or sewer pipes.
Sometimes, the end of the downspout gets damaged or smashed. Over time, downspouts that are covered by soil tend to corrode. When this happens, water and debris can back up into the downspout and gutter, rendering them useless and setting up your home for potential damage. A corroded downspout may allow water to seep into the foundation causing additional damage.
Make certain gutters are clear of leaves and debris. After a major storm, even if your roof has not sustained major damage, clear shingle residue from gutters to avoid problematic buildup. In Sedona, schedule cleaning gutters in spring and fall schedules.
Here in Arizona, the heaviest rainfall starts in Monsoon. Monsoon activity starts around June 15th and goes through September 15th. We can get microbursts that dump rain at a rate of 6 inches an hour but usually last a very short time. We need to plan for this well in advance.
If you’re looking at a home to buy, make sure the home has gutters installed. If you want to increase the value of a home you’re selling, installing gutters gives buyers peace of mind about potential water problems.
As always, you can rely me for on all real estate related questions.