Building An Addition: A Homeowner's Guide

4 Problems That Can Arise From Poor Gutter Maintenance

by Toni Richards

It is just as important to maintain your gutters as it is to maintain the rest of your home's exterior. Damaged gutters can cause significant damage to your home's roof, siding, and foundation, so it is important for every homeowner to understand the risks of damaged gutters and how to avoid them. Here are four problems that can arise from failing to maintain your home's gutters.

Falling Gutters

Naturally, the part of your home that is in direct danger from poor gutter maintenance is your gutters themselves. Leaves, dirt, and other debris that is allowed to build up in your gutters can eventually become so heavy that your gutters break free from your home and fall.

In this scenario, replacing your gutters may not be the only expense that you face. Falling gutters can break windows as they fall and cause significant damage to your home's siding. If anyone is standing under your gutters when they fall, it could cause serious injury that you would be liable for. Having your gutters cleaned regularly will help you avoid injury or costly repairs in the future and will greatly extend the life of your gutters.

Foundation Damage

The primary reason for installing gutters and downspouts on your home is to divert water away from your home's foundation. This prevents the soil around your foundation from becoming saturated with water and swelling. If the soil is allowed to swell with water, it will exert hydrostatic pressure on the foundation walls, causing them to leak and crumble. In the worst cases, saturated soil can shift your entire foundation and pose a serious risk to your home's structural integrity.

Allowing your gutters or downspouts to clog will prevent them from routing water away from your foundation effectively, as water will simply pour over the side of the gutters. Gutter leaks can also allow water to fall through and damage your foundation. Keeping your gutters clean and patching gutter leaks can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars' worth of damage to your foundation.

Roof Rot

Moisture buildup from clogged gutters can pose a serious threat to the wood frame of your roof. Clogged gutters keep water on your roof longer as it fights its way through debris and over the edges of your gutters. This gives rainwater time to seep through your shingles and begin to rot the wood under your roof.

As the wood of your roof rots, a damp depression can be created that is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. In advanced stages, leaks can develop inside your home, and mold can begin to spread inside of your attic. A mold infestation from your roof will eventually work its way into your home's walls and ceilings as well and require a large-scale renovation project to fully eliminate the problem.

Pest Infestations

In addition to increasing the risk of mold, standing moisture in your roof is more likely to draw pests to your home. Mosquitoes, cockroaches, and termites love the dark, damp environment that a rotted hole in a roof provides. If roof rot is left untreated, it will  eventually spread enough that pests are provided access to your attic and the inside of your walls. Cleaning your gutters and replacing any rotten boards on your roof can save you from dealing with a pest infestation in your home.

Gutter cleaning is one of the most important things you can do to protect several other parts of your home from damage. Be sure to make gutter maintenance a priority so that you can avoid paying for expensive damages caused by neglect of your gutters.