With summer on it's way, it is important to pay attention to a component that is many times neglected - the gutter system. During our home inspections, we commonly find gutters that are clogged with debris causing water to accumulate. This increased weight often causes gutters to detach or fall off completely.
The job of a well designed and maintained gutter system is to collect the rainwater that falls onto the roof and then direct it to downspouts which carry the runoff away from the house. This keeps the foundation dry and safe from the effects of prolonged dampness and frost.
The main problem with gutters is that they collect other things than rainwater such as falling leaves. When leaves and other material gather and decay they can build up and impede the smooth flow of water through the gutter. In the worst cases, debris blocks the downspouts. The easy channels for water runoff now become dams. The water, instead of being guided safely away from the house, builds up and spills right over collecting next to the house where it seeps in and creates dampness at the foundation. In winter, water which has found its way into tiny cracks and pits in the foundation surfaces freezes and expands, making the cracks and pits bigger, stressing and shortening the life of the foundation and the house on top of it.
Keeping gutters clean is an often overlooked (or perhaps undesired) home maintenance job. It is a job that can be hired out or it may be a task a homeowner may do himself. It can be dirty, messy, and as there are usually ladders and heights involved.
Gutter guards are often sought as a way to reduce this maintenance. There are a few different types: