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.