Home Building Tip #2: Roof and Guttering Maintenance

Guttering Fascia Bargeboard and Soffit

Image source:  www.angliaroofline.co.uk/services/soffit-replacement/

Roof and Guttering Maintenance: Why Does Your Home Need It?

Your home’s roof and gutter systems are designed to capture and direct rain away from your home, preventing subsequent water damage to your walls and foundations. But each autumn/winter, the functionality of the guttering is called into question due to the large number of fallen leaves and debris entering the gutters and blocking them.

This can prevent the gutters from draining properly, leading to a number of undesirable outcomes. Understanding how different elements affect the functionality of your gutter system and how they may put the structural integrity of your home at risk will help you take the right action to prevent such catastrophes. Keep reading to find out more about common guttering problems and how to address them. 

Wind, Leaves and Tree Foliage

Wind, leaves and tree foliage are one of the most frequent causes of dysfunctional gutters. If wet leaves clog your gutters, these clogs may cause the gutters to sag over time. This holds especially true during autumn and winter. Sagging gutters could cause damage to fascia boards and may eventually let rain water into the home.

If left unaddressed, this could easily result in more costly damage over time. Moreover, the fallen leaves start decaying due to prolonged exposure to moisture which will eventually make it become mulch. As a result, your gutters will rust and become blocked -- and your home’s structural integrity may be put at risk.

Gutter overflowing with autumn leavesSagging gutter caused by long standing blockages 

Leaves and debris filling up gutters                                               Sagging gutters

Image sources:  www.theaiatrust.com/fall-maintenance/   

A blockage can cause water to pour over the sides of the gutters and pool around the foundations of the house. This blockage will eventually lead to cracks and even a full collapse of the foundations. Even if the foundations do not collapse, the cracks and water accumulation will ultimately promote the development of mould, something that calls for repairs that are oftentimes costly.

blocked gutters overflow in rain 

Overflowing gutters

Strong winds can cause gutters to move away from their optimal position, rendering them useless when they are needed most.

But the damage caused by gutter blockage doesn’t end here. Since fascia boards are often made of wood, they start to deteriorate due to the gutters clogging and filling with water. At the same time, clogged gutters may result in the water overflowing out of the gutter system and down the sides of the home.

This can be prevented by installing leaf guard to prevent leaves and tree foliage from blocking your gutters. They may not be effective for dust and decaying leaves, but they will greatly limit the amount of other potential blockage that enters the guttering.

Keep in mind that if the fascia boards of your home become deteriorated, water may penetrate the eaves (soffits) lining and cause the paint to bubble. The eaves will then have to be repainted which is another added building cost for the homeowner. Damage can also occur to valley gutters around your roof area where water can backflow over the valley gutter. This type of damage will directly affect ceiling linings and internal paintwork.

guttering can be extensive on multi-storey homes    Single storey home                                                                        2 storey home

Image sources:  www.grandviewfarmhomes.com.au/             and our own

A single storey home is normally more accessible for roof and gutter maintenance but maintenance can get very cumbersome if you have a multi-level home as scaffolding may be required to gain access to the roof and guttering. This challenge can make the whole process very costly for a homeowner.  Moreover, you should be aware that at a certain height scaffolding is required as per NSW Occupational Health and Safety Height Regulations. Scaffolding can be quite costly altogether, often adding a few thousand to a quotation. 

How to Tell If Your Gutters Are Blocked?

There are a few common signs that may indicate blockage in your gutters and downpipes. They are: 

  • Overflow: The most common sign of blocked guttering is water overflowing from the top of the gutters instead of draining down the pipe. This happens especially when it's raining, but if you notice water dripping down the gutters when the weather isn't rainy, then this is a clear sign that your gutters are blocked.
  • Pipes: Look for sagging pipes. If you notice the gutters sagging in the middle, then there may be a build-up of fallen leaves, tree foliage and debris that are too heavy for the pipes. In addition to sagging, the pipes may also start to pull away from the roof. 
  • External Walls: Blocked gutters can cause the external walls of your home to look discoloured. This usually occurs as a result of water penetrating deep into, or dripping onto, the walls. If this happens, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible, as damp walls facilitate the growth of mould, leading to severe damage to the structural integrity of your home.

2 Quick Tips for Good Roof and Guttering Maintenance Practices

If roof and guttering maintenance are not on your home maintenance list, then this would be the perfect time to add them.

If your gutters are subject to constant blockage due to fallen leaves and debris, it is wise to have leaf guard installed to protect them. The guard should be lifted in order for the gutters to be cleaned every six months or so, then reinstalled. This will help prevent a build-up of dirt and debris, thus facilitating the channelling of water off the roof and away from your home. 

example of gutter leaf guard 
One example of leaf guard design

Image source:  myhomeimprovement.org/home-remodel/gutter-protection-cost

If you do not currently have a leaf guard installed, a solid gutter and downpipe cleaning plan will be necessary.

examples of clogged downpipes Downpipes completely clogged with debris and mulch over time

Storm water lines from the home to the street should also be checked periodically to locate any blockages caused by debris build-up from the roof or tree roots entering the storm water pipes.

Kind regards,

Brian Babbidge
(Licensed Building Professional)



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