A little over a year ago my cousin called and asked me to come take a look at her attic. She and her family were spring cleaning and noticed some rot starting to take hold on the insulation and plywood on the ceiling. Well, it didn’t take an attic inspection, or even entering the house, to figure out her problem. After years of allowing debris to accumulate unchecked, the roof line of my cousin’s house had become a canopy and her gutters a forest floor where a dozen maple saplings reached their way toward the sun. I spent my day yanking these maple saplings out of her gutters wiping out soil. Gutters do not need to be a homeowner’s biggest concern, but they do serve an important function and neglecting to perform occasional maintenance can lead to major structural damage over time.
Why Do Gutters Clog?
It’s a process that happens over time. Wind, wildlife, and trees all love to deposit debris on our roofs and gutters. Most of that debris gets washed through the gutter and carried through the downspout, but some of it will stick. This can happen in any number of ways. Sometimes, and this is particularly true for homeowners with tall trees near their gutters, there is just more debris than the rain can carry. Other times it is because a stick or other large piece of detritus clogs the entryway to the downspout or because so much debris has built up inside the downspout that water can no longer run down it. Another, often overlooked reason, is that the the gutter may be coming loose or is installed at an improper angle. After cleaning the gutter of debris, pour water through it and make sure that water runs swiftly down the drain instead of pooling.
Why Do Backed Up Gutters Cause Roof Leaks?
Gutters run along the edge of the roof, but don’t do much to protect. Gutters are a moisture protection system for the fascia, siding, and foundation of a home. They collect rain runoff and carry it away from the home. But as discussed earlier, the system can break down. Instead of carrying all that water away from house, a clogged gutter will simply hold on to it and keep it right up against the edge of the roof.
In my cousin’s case, the debris build up had simply gotten out of control. The wet, fertile soil lining the inside of her gutters meant that rain had nowhere to go. In a storm, some of the rain was soaked up by the soil and the majority fell over the side of the gutter to the ground, but a fraction headed north. This water went under the shingles and pressed moisture into the plywood which forms the roof’s foundation,eventually causing it to rot. The saplings reinforced the damage by continuously depositing debris onto the roof and providing shade from the sun in all the dampest places.
What can cause your roof to leak if you don’t have a forest in your gutters? Snow and ice. When a gutter that has been accumulating water starts to freeze, that water expands. It can fill the gutter and create an ice dam that prevents rain and snow from tumbling away from the house or through the downspout. This is another situation where water has nowhere to go but up onto the roof, under the shingles, and over time, into the attic and the rest of the house.
How Do I Keep My Gutter From Clogging?
It doesn’t take much. Clean out debris twice a year, and test to the gutter to make sure it drains properly. Check the downspout and ensure water is getting through. In this case a little maintenance will go a long way. Quick safety reminder: be careful! Never climb up to do gutter maintenance without a spotter to hold your ladder steady and provide help if something goes wrong.
Choosing The Right Roofing Contractor To Help You With Your Roof Leaks
We know that it’s hard to balance life, kids, work, and then there is always the dreadful roof leaks that a homeowner endures at the worse possible time. We know that searching for the right roofing contractor can be a nightmare. Our experts have chosen the best contractors in each city for you to choose from. This allows you to get back to what you love to do and less time making sure each contractor has the necessary experience to work on your roof leak. Depending on where you live, we have selected the best Roofing Contractors in Atlanta, Orlando, Nashville, Dallas, and Chicago. If you don’t see your city, please feel free to give us a call and we will be happy to research the contractors in your area at no cost to you.