Autumn Can Threaten the Structure of Your Home

football on rock with autumn leavesNothing beats fall in New England, but did you know it poses a threat to the structural integrity of your home? Fall is the season that every homeowner in New England typically must check and maintain their gutter system or deal with damage in the not–so-distant future.

Your home’s gutters are specifically designed to allow water to drain and flow away from your home, but if that flow is disrupted by anything (or flows the wrong way) it could cause several costly repairs.

Determining if you are at risk is not difficult. Your gutters either work well or they don’t. The system is either clogged with debris, or it is clean. The issues and symptoms are not hard to diagnose, but ignoring the problem can cause damage to your roof and foundation.

Here are a few things to look at:

  • Unprotected gutters: Are the top side of your gutters fully exposed? This means they can easily become clogged with leaves, branches, and other debris. When this happens, water cannot easily flow through them, which causes water backup and overflow to damage a home’s structure and foundation.
  • Is the gutter collecting leaves? Leaves falling may cause clogging problems and if it is not addressed before winter, a home’s structural integrity could be compromised when snow and ice begin melting.
  • Is the gutter blocked with more than leaves – like a bird’s nest, for example? Birds like to stay safe and warm and your gutters can be a cozy place to call home in the fall. This causes gutters to become blocked and when heavy rain, ice, and melting snow occur (as they inevitably do in New England) can cause backed up water to seep into the wood and the roof underlayment. This moisture leads to rot and any place where moisture forms can also grow mold, be more vulnerable to pest infestation, and damage the roofing material through the formation of ice dams and a number of other issues.
  • Does water pool near the foundation of your home? Where do your gutters drain? If it is at the base of your house, there is a problem. Pools of water can seep into the foundation and cause cracking, leaks and other damage from the house “settling” into the softened, soaked ground. A good gutter system should also channel water completely away from the foundation of your home – by several feet.

Older gutters typically require a homeowner to climb a ladder and clean out the debris that collects in them at least twice per year.   Keep in mind, however, that clogs can happen in between those cleanings. Proper maintenance of your gutters, or an upgrade in your system (like one with covers), may be something you wish to postpone, but it is a part of home maintenance that is necessary to maintain the structural health of your roof and your entire home.

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