Gutters play an important role in protecting your home from moisture damage. That’s why it’s important that you have them regularly cleaned. Without routine maintenance, leaves and other debris can clog your gutters and cause rainwater to overflow.
What are some of the common issues that arise from irregular gutter maintenance and how can you address them? Barry Best Seamless Gutters, your local gutter contractor, sheds light on these questions below.
Gutter leaks are one of the most common issues homeowners encounter. Several factors can cause your gutters to leak, but the usual culprit is irregular or improper maintenance. If too much organic debris accumulates in your gutters, they might not be able to handle the excess weight load, causing them pull apart at the seams in some areas.
Fixing Gutter Leaks
Minor gutter leaks are relatively easy to fix. A gutter contractor will wipe the gutters dry and apply sealant to plug the leaks. However, if the leaks are severe or the gutters are starting to pull apart, you’ll need to have new gutters installed. If you’re considering installing new gutters, we recommend choosing seamless gutters, which are more durable than sectional gutters. Seamless gutters lack joints—the weak point of a traditional sectional gutter system—and are therefore less vulnerable to leaks. Seamless gutters are also a smart choice for homeowners who are concerned about their property’s curb appeal: Seamless gutters boast a clean, streamlined design that will give your home a sleeker look than sectional gutters.
Debris accumulation and standing water in the gutters can cause sections of the system to sag. The fasteners attaching the gutters to your roof might start to pull away if they can’t handle the extra weight load. Sagging gutters are a problem because their awkward slope or pitch can prevent water from flowing to the drains, trapping rainwater, which not only adds more weight but also creating a breeding ground for mold and pests. For rainwater to properly flow from the gutters to the downspouts, gutters should have a slope of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet.
Fixing Sagging Gutters
Fortunately, fixing sagging gutters is relatively easy—and inexpensive. All you need to do is have the gutter hangers replaced. To make sure the gutter hangers are spaced properly and your gutters have the right slope, only an experienced gutter contractor should handle the installation. In areas that experience sporadic rain, the gutter hangers should be spaced no more than 36 inches apart from the center, while in rainier regions, the gutter hangers should have a maximum distance of 18 inches between them.
Vegetation in Your Gutters
Decaying organic debris that accumulates in your gutters can serve as fertile soil from which vegetation can spout. These plants may seem harmless at first, but they can weigh down your gutters or hamper the flow of rainwater. If you see any plants growing out of your gutters, check your gutters for organic debris and remove the vegetation immediately.
Routine Gutter Maintenance Is Key
Regularly cleaning your gutters can prevent these issues. The problem is most homeowners just don’t have the time to stay on top of gutter maintenance. One way to reduce the maintenance burden is to install gutter covers, which prevent leaves, twigs and other debris from entering your gutters in the first place.
Keep in mind that most gutter covers can only reduce, not eliminate the need to clean your gutters. You’ll probably still need to occasionally remove the leaves and debris that gathered on top of your gutter covers. The only exception is Gutter Helmet®, the only gutter cover on the market with a Never Clean Your Gutters Again® guarantee.
What Makes Gutter Helmet Different From Other Gutter Covers?
Gutter Helmet gutter covers take advantage of surface tension to channel rainwater to your gutters. Surface tension occurs as water molecules flowing over the edge of a surface stick tightly to each other when they have nowhere else to go. A good example is how water poured into a glass forms a dome right before it spills over the top. When rain hits Gutter Helmet’s textured-and-ribbed surface, water is directed to the gutter covers’ patented nose-forward design, allowing it to enter your gutters unimpeded while keeping leaves and other kinds of debris out. Gutter Helmet is also attached to your roof using heavy-duty mounting brackets, so there’s no need to worry about your gutter covers being dislodged.
Clogs caused by accumulated leaves and twigs are less of a concern in winter, but that doesn’t your gutters are safe from clogs or leaks in cold weather. Ice dams or icicles can form near the edges of your roof if your gutters are clogged or there’s not enough insulation in your roof or ventilation in your attic. Ice dams are problematic because they can cause roof leaks and damage your gutters.
Removing Ice Dams
How do you remove the icicles near your roof’s edges? You can hire a professional to steam the ice dams or pour calcium chloride near your roof to melt them. There’s also the option of breaking the ice dams into smaller chunks, but contractors don’t recommend doing this because it can damage your gutters and roof.
If you want to prepare your roof for winter and prevent ice dams from forming near your gutters, contractors recommend installing a gutter heating system like Helmet Heat®. This innovative system increases the temperature of your gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Don’t worry, Helmet Heat doesn’t overheat your gutters. Its self-regulating heating cable raises your gutters’ temperature just enough to make sure icicles don’t form, but not too much that your gutters become hot to the touch or energy is wasted.
Helmet Heat is fully compatible with the Gutter Helmet gutter protection system. Helmet Heat’s self-regulating cables are hidden beneath the gutter covers, so they won’t compromise your home’s curb appeal.
Gutter Installation Issues
Only experienced contractors should handle the installation of your new gutters and gutter protection system. That’s because less experienced contractors are prone to making costly installation errors that could result in:
- Bad downspout drainage – Like your gutters, the downspouts need to have a certain pitch to properly divert rainwater away from your roof. If the downspouts are too close to your home, water might start to pool around your home and may eventually seep into its concrete foundation.
- Loose gutters – If there aren’t enough gutter hangers or there isn’t enough space between them, your gutters might start to sag or collapse completely.
- Easily worn-out gutters – It’s also possible that less experienced contractors may have installed gutters that are ill-suited to your area’s climate. If your gutters are not equipped to handle natural wear and tear, they’ll have a shorter lifespan. For instance, vinyl gutters are a poor choice for homes in cold areas, as vinyl becomes brittle in subzero temperatures. Galvanized steel gutters are a popular choice; they’re sturdy and affordable. However, the zinc coating that protects galvanized steel gutters from corrosion is easily scratched and becomes worn over time, leaving steel exposed to the elements. In most cases, contractors recommend aluminum gutters, which are lightweight, rustproof, easy-to-install and can withstand extreme temperatures.
Here’s a tip: It’s best to hire a local contractor. They’ll be more familiar with your area’s climate and the local building codes and can, therefore, make better recommendations.
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