Fall has finally arrived! With that, obviously, comes falling leaves, the bane of roofs and gutters. From a home maintenance perspective, this is something that definitely needs to be addressed. While cleaning the gutters is a chore that few, if any of us enjoy, it is one that has a significant impact on the overall health of our home.
Let’s take a look at why this is such an important task to stay on top of.
Most of us understand that water is the single greatest enemy of our homes. It is relentless, invasive and can destroy nearly any part of our home if left unchecked.
During a rain event, our roofs shed a very high volume of water. All of that water is trying to find a path to the interior of our homes. Gutters do an outstanding job of capturing that rain water and directing it away from our home’s foundation. However, when those gutters and downspouts get full of leaves and branches, the rain water begins to overflow and saturate the ground right next to our foundation. Over time, water next to the foundation WILL find its way into the the home, basement or crawl space. We need not go into the problems with water in our homes. Even if the water doesn’t get in, it can cause foundation movement, settling and failure over time. It is essential to get water away from the foundation. Splash blocks are an absolute minimum. Better yet are downspout extensions that get the water at least six feet away from the house.
Another issue with clogged gutters is that they can leak on the back side of the gutter. This can lead to deterioration of the fascia boards and soffits as well as the edge of the roof decking and rafter tails. Simply because of the difficulty of access, very few home owners check the condition of the fascia behind the gutters. Quite often, by the time rot or damage is discovered, it is fairly extensive.
Gutters are not the only place leaves and limbs can be a problem. The roof surface itself, particularly the valleys, tend to be a place for accumulation of debris. The problem here is twofold. First, piled up leaves hold moisture very well. And while roofs do a great job of shedding most of the moisture, if it is trapped by leaves and debris, the smallest penetration from an exposed or unsealed nail head or damaged or lifted flashing or shingle is an open invitation for water to enter the roof structure and make its presence known inside your home. The second issue is that, allowed to remain on the roof, piles of leaves can promote the growth of moss or vegetation and shorten the service life of the roof covering. Maintaining a leaf and limb free roof surface will greatly reduce the possibility of these issues.
Home Inspectors run into these issues quite often. In fact, they are some of the first things we look for during the exterior portion of a home inspection.
Keeping your roof and gutters free of leaves and debris is an aggravation, but it can sure head off a lot of problems, and some costly ones at that, down the road!
Enjoy the fall!