Fall is here! My favorite season of the year has arrived. The dog days of summer are over which means no more sweltering attics for me. I enjoy smelling the cool, crisp fall air and watching the trees change colors. Speaking of trees – everyone loves trees, including myself. However, there is required maintenance when you have large, mature trees around your home.
Today were going to discuss the important role that your gutters and downspouts play in maintaining your home. It is said that water is a homes’ worst enemy, whether it is coming from the inside or the outside. Your roof is the first line of defense against rain and snow, and your gutters and downspouts are a close second.
I have seen homes that have had basement water proofing systems installed that were probably unnecessary and could have been taken care of with much less expensive exterior work. Sometimes simply maintaining the gutters and downspouts would be enough to solve many moisture issues in a basement. I inspect many homes that have proper gutters and downspouts, but the downspouts aren’t extended to direct the water away from the foundation.
I think that often homeowners don’t like the look of the extended downspouts, or they get in the way of mowing the lawn. Homeowners also like to simply direct the water onto a splash block, but unfortunately, in time, water washes away the soil under the splash block and it directs the water right back towards the foundation. One solution is to run underground piping and have the water discharge at a lower point away from the home if you don’t like having the downspouts extended.
Get ready for some boring calculations! The average size residential roof is 2,000 square feet. A roof that size will shed 1,120 gallons of water, per inch of rain. In the Kalamazoo area, we average 39 inches of rain per year. That’s over 43,500 gallons of water that an average roof sheds in a year, or enough to fill more than 4 residential swimming pools! That is a lot of water that can erode the soil around your foundation and eventually find its’ way into your home.
I always recommend that gutters and downspouts be cleaned and inspected twice a year. Once in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen, and then again in the spring. Cleaning obviously involves removing any debris from the gutters so that the water can run without any restrictions. Inspecting the gutters includes making sure that the gutters have the correct slope to the downspouts, checking the hangers that secure the gutters to the fascia and checking for any leaks that may have developed. Leaks tend to form at any seams, such as end caps, downspout connections, and any other connections.
If you are comfortable working from a ladder, this is something that you can easily tackle yourself. If however, you are not comfortable on a ladder and are afraid of heights, this is definitely a great job for a handyman. Licensed and insured handymen are available in the Kalamazoo area for as little as $80 per hour. I would estimate that most jobs would take no more than 2 hours to complete.