It may be a pain to get up on a ladder and clean out the gutters, but if you leave debris in them, the resultant clogs could do more damage to your home than you think. So take the time on a weekend, or hire an expert to clear the gutter system and inspect it for any needed repairs.

Gutter System Defined

Gutters run along the roof edges at the back and front of a home. They are open at the top and supports are in place at regular intervals to hold the gutters in place. Gutters are slightly angled to allow gravity to pull water runoff to the downspouts, where the water empties out. There should be a downspout cage located where the gutter and the downspout intersect. This wire cage is designed to catch debris so it doesn’t clog the downspout — much like a sink strainer does with food particles. A downspout extension deposits the water into the soil at a distance from the house. Many gutter systems don’t have extensions; if yours doesn’t, add them.

How to Clean Gutters

Any manner of detritus can end up in your gutters, especially if you live near trees or live in an area prone to windy days. Stuff that can wind up in the gutters includes leaves, sticks, feathers, and acorns. When water hits the debris, it presses it down and washes it toward the downspout — unless there is a lot of gunk; in which case, it’s just going to sit there and guide the runoff over the edge and down to the ground next to your home.

If you do not have the stability to safely climb a ladder, hire a professional to clean the gutters. For DIYers, start with the gutters along the roof edges. Position yourself higher than the gutters so you easily can see down the length of them. Remove any clogs by hand or with a high-pressure hose. Remember to clean where the washed away debris may accumulate at the downspout cage.

Check the cage. It might be bent or have shifted. These cages are not expensive, so replace them if they are bent or are damaged in a way that prevents them from being effective.

Clear downspouts are hollow. Just like you would knock on a wall to find a stud location, tap on the downspout. Any location that does not sound hollow likely has a clog there. You may have to take apart the spout to clear it out or use a plumbing snake. Like with sink plumbing, elbows tend to collect debris, so check elbows where you can.

Gutter covers are available, but you should periodically check them to make sure they are intact, and be sure to examine the downspout cages and downspouts.

Potential Home Damage

When the gutter system fails to work properly, water drips down the sides of the home and into the soil around the foundation. This can result in eroded house paint as well as all the things that can go wrong with a basement and foundation when waterproofing is faulty and the soil is saturated with moisture.

After constant soil saturation causes the soil to push against the foundation and the water to seep through concrete, you might see the following signs of foundation, basement, and/or crawl space damage: hairline cracks in the floor and walls, crumbling concrete, water spots, mold, bowing walls, or a listing chimney.

If you see any of these things, contact a foundation repair expert to help you fix the damage ineffective gutters caused and to discuss preventive measures.

Acculevel Is Your Foundation Repair Expert

We know that living in the Midwest means rain and a high water table. At Acculevel, we strive to make your home’s foundation as waterproof as possible. Our expert staff can provide you with a free in-home estimate after discussing any needed repairs. After fixing the damage, we’ll take the time to talk about how to keep your foundation dry so there is no water damage in the future. If you live in the Midwest and need an expert opinion on your basement and foundation issues, contact us at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].