Fall Home Maintenance Tasks: Getting to know your gutters

Posted by Jeffrey Anderson ~ August 29, 2013

As much as everyone eagerly awaits summer's warm weather, they're often just as happy when the cooler days of autumn finally arrive. There are many activities associated with the season such, as visiting pumpkin patches, shopping for apple cider, or just taking a relaxing drive through the countryside to enjoy the colorful landscape.

However, if you own a house, don't forget to allow a little time for fall home maintenance tasks when making out your schedule. And perhaps one of the most important autumn chores: ensuring your gutters are ready for winter's severe weather.

What every homeowner should know about their gutters

How much do you know about your gutters and their function? While many people choose their windows, doors, and siding to create a certain look or make a statement, very few are concerned about their gutters other than wanting them to be as unobtrusive as much as possible.

However, just like the exterior components that receive a little more publicity, your gutters play a big part in protecting your home during inclement weather. Gutters provide a drainage system that prevents water running off your roof from landing next to the foundation where it could cause basement leaks or even structural damage. Every homeowner should perform a gutter inspection as one of their fall home maintenance tasks. Here's what to look for:

  • Blockages - If you live in a wooded area, there's a pretty good chance that some of autumn's falling leaves are going to end up in your gutters. And for some reason, the colors aren't quite as pretty when you're cleaning them out. All gutters and downspouts should be emptied of leaves, twigs, and any other debris before winter's arrival. Homeowners who live in an area with an abundance of trees may want to think about installing gutter guards.
  • Sagging - Gutters with joints or seams may sag in an area where tree branches or other heavy debris landed during a summer thunderstorm. This can cause water to pool which could lead to ice damming during the winter months. A sag may be able to be corrected by reattaching or replacing a hanger, but more times than not, a gutter repair is required.
  • Proper slope - Ensuring your gutters have proper slope or fall is very important when doing an inspection. The slope determines the direction and speed of water flowing through the drainage system. Gutters should slope ¼ inch per 10 feet in the direction of the downspout. A long run of guttering may have the downspout in the center so the slope should be from the ends toward the middle. The grade slope where the downspout discharges should also be checked to prevent ponding at the foundation. In most cases, the drainage fall should be from 3 to 6 inches per 10 feet away from the house.

Is doing a gutter inspection a DIY project? Well, that depends on the height of your house and how comfortable you are on a ladder. If your home is over one story high, it might be a good idea to hire a contractor.

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