Day after day, year after year, your gutters and downspouts are always on call to channel damaging storm water away from the home. Though yours may have contributed decades of faithful, mostly trouble-free service, every installation has an expiration date. If you’re not certain whether or time the time for replacement has come, look out for these telltale signs of failure.
Cracked gutters are about as pointless as a bucket with a hole on the bottom. To inspect your gutters and downspouts, be aware that while larger cracks are plainly visible on dry, clear days—at least with the aid of binoculars—smaller cracks may only reveal themselves in a storm. No matter their size, cracks defeat the purpose of a drainage system and warrant serious appraisal. Individual cracks may be repaired, but extensive cracking is a reason to consider replacement.
The average gutters are often most vulnerable at the seams where two horizontal sections meet. Here, both leaks and separations are common, with both types of failure eventually leading to any number of undesirable outcomes, whether outside the home or indoors. Though gutter seams can sometimes be mended, many homeowners are putting the entire hassle behind them, instead opting for seamless gutters.
Believe it or not, malfunctioning gutters can ruin a perfectly good paint job. Check your exterior siding for any paint that has bubbled up or peeled away due to excess moisture. Wherever you find a section of compromised paint, be sure to check the condition of the nearest gutter. If even your painted gutters are peeling, then you very likely have a leak. In cases where peeling paint extends beyond one or a couple of areas, think seriously about gutter replacement, not repair.
When malfunctioning gutters allow rain to cascade over the home, completely unchecked, then peeling paint might be least among your concerns. If allowed to rot, exterior wood trim elements like window sills and door jambs become unable to keep out the weather. So a seemingly isolated problem—say, water-damaged drywall—may in fact be caused by inadequate storm drainage. If your gutters continually cause such headaches, it’s probably time to replace to them.
There’s a reason that downspouts terminate about six feet away from the home. Moisture accumulation near the foundation tends to find its way into the basement, eventually causing unsightly, unhealthy, and often rather smelly mildew growth. If you encounter mold and mildew in a formerly dry, mildew-free area below ground, damaged gutters are the most likely cause. When such problems recur after repair attempts, gutter replacement is the next logical step.
Tired of cleaning out your gutters every year? You’re not alone. But since typical gutters must be maintained in order to function correctly, and since so many people forget or delay their maintenance duties, smaller and more manageable issues inevitably develop into larger, costly affairs. If that all sounds too familiar, don’t hesitate: Your best bet is to install the patented one-piece Gutter Guardian gutter system, an innovative get-it-and-forget-it solution designed never to clog.
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