While having one’s mind in the gutter can be entertaining and exciting, when it is about the gutters on one’s home it is usually anything but entertaining or exciting. Of course if that is your particular “thing” I will do my best to understand.
There are those that would say that gutters on homes are part of the problem–as opposed to a solution to anything. In climates with lots of snow, people claim that the weight of heavy snow and ice will just rip them off the home. There are ways to deal with that problem, but I will let that be fodder for another post.
Gutters can be a maintenance nightmare. Annually thousands of people are injured or killed falling off ladders and roofs trying to keep the gutters free of debris. There are some more-or-less successful ways to deal with that problem too but that also is perhaps best left to another post. For now, suffice it to say that every leaf-guard system on the market will tell you why their system is the best. As an inspector I can tell you that some are clearly better than others–and all have their issues. Most work better than nothing.
The reality is that water pounding on the ground around homes can result in damage to siding and result in erosion of the ground around the home and even affect foundation stability in some types of soils.
In Washington State “missing” gutters are even considered a condition conducive to wood destroying organisms, and something that Licensed Structural Pest Inspectors will include in a any report regarding wood destroying organisms and conditions conducive to wood destroying organisms noted around the home. I placed the word “missing” in quotes because there are in fact no codes “requiring” the installation of gutters. As we know, the codes are a minimum standard and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (that regulates Structural Pest Inspectors) recognizes missing gutters as a conducive condition. This is what gives Washington State Home Inspectors the mandate to call them “missing” when they are not present.
I personally agree with the State of Washington as I often find problems in homes with improper gutters, missing gutters and improperly terminated downspouts.
On a recent inspection I found this gutter that was poorly attached to the eave of the roof. This creates a low spot in the gutter which then fills with water. This causes the gutter to sag even more. It fills with more water until the weight of the water spills over the edge like a side-dump truck creating a torrent of water on the ground below.
The impact marks on the ground are obvious and the eroding soils in this case flow around the end of the building where all the siding close to the ground is buried by the river of dirt.
Installing gutters is important but maintaining them in good working condition is perhaps just as important. Otherwise it may be worse than none at all.
Now we can all get our minds out of the gutter.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email 🙂