Maintenance Notes: Gutters

From time to time I'll be posting here to expand on the items called out in the Maintenance Calendar. For the most part, I'll follow the calendar and try to post timely information.

Today, I'm going to start off with a brief note on gutters and downspouts. I've received a few comments about the frequency they appear on the maintenance calendar. I acknowledge, they crop up often. There are two reasons for this.

First, I'm being realistic. Cleaning your gutters is a pain. It takes time. And ladders. And is somewhat dirty. You're not going to get up from your chair and do it right when the reminder crops up. It will get put off and sometimes forgotten. So the reminders repeat.

Second, its actually very important. The roof of your house is (hopefully) an impervious surface that sheds water at the lower edges. This has the effect of concentrating rain water right where you want it least - on the exterior surface of the home and in the soil adjacent to your foundation. If the horizontal area of your roof is 1000 sq. ft. and a quarter inch of rain falls, that equates to roughly 155 gallons of water landing on your roof.

While many are quick to point out that Seattle is not as rainy as its reputation implies (statistically speaking), the fact is we get plenty of precipitation; on average about 38 inches per year. For that 1000 sq. foot roof above, that adds up to 23,560 gallons of water. Looked at another way, that's over 90 tons of water per year. If your gutters and downspouts are not clear and function properly, much of that water can end up in places you don't want it to be. And you can find yourself dealing with a wet basement or exterior trim and siding that is degrading at a rapid rate.

When inspecting homes we often see evidence of damage caused by water. Often it is damage that could have been easily averted with a properly functioning roof drainage system. Keeping your gutters working properly is relatively easy. You just have to get up and do it.

Tool Libraries in Seattle

The best way to ensure professional level results for any project involving your home is to hire a competent professional to do the job. This is my default advice, as it is of most home inspectors. Of course, I know hiring a pro will not always be the path taken. So from time to time this blog will contain advice and resources for DIY projects.

Today's topic: tools.

While there is truth in the old adage that it is the poor carpenter who blames his tools,  skilled craftsmen know the importance of having the right tool for the job. This is especially true in today's world where many modern building materials require specialty tools to get the best results. Tackling a project without the right tools can lead to frustration with the process and disappointing results. In some cases, it can even be unsafe.

Yet investing in top quality equipment for a one time or occasional use can be cost prohibitive. Even renting can get expensive. That's where tool libraries can come to the rescue. Here in Seattle we are lucky to have two tool libraries. On in NE Seattle, the other in West Seattle. Both offer broad inventories of tools for a variety of projects. Both are free to use, however they do request a donation to help sustain their operations; I would encourage you to make one. 

The next time you are taking on a project around the house yourself, check them out. 

Home Maintenance Calendar

In the course of inspecting a home, many of the issues encountered can be traced to a lack of preventative maintenance and upkeep. The cost of performing the maintenance tasks, in both dollars and time, is often small. The cost of repairing the problems caused by lack of maintenance can rise rapidly.

At Lone Pine Inspections we want to see everyone succeed as a homeowner. To help out, we have built a digital home maintenance calendar that you can use to help stay on top of things.

This calendar is built for a generic home in our Northwest maritime climate. Some items may not apply to your case. Likewise, your home may require maintenance above and beyond what is included here. To get the most out of it we recommend you import the data into whatever calendar system you prefer, using the links below. You can then customize the items and reminders to fit your needs. Of course, you can simply view the calendar 'as is' on the web, as well. 

For applications using XML: Link.

For applications accepting iCal calendar files: Link.

To view in your browser: Link