Your gutters play a vital role in maintaining the structural integrity of your home. While properly-functioning gutters do the job of carrying rainwater off your roof and away from your home, old or damaged gutters can cause a whole host of problems. Roof damage, wood rot, water in your basement, and landscaping damage are all effects of a poorly functioning gutter system.
How do you know if you need new gutters? Some signs are obvious, while others can be a little harder to detect. Here's what to look for.
1. Cracks: One of the obvious signs of a bad gutter is visible damage in the form of cracks or holes. Larger cracks are visible from the ground, but it's a good idea to get up close to inspect your gutters for smaller cracks. Any crack, large or small, will make itself known when it rains.
2. Wood rot: Inspect all wood on the exterior of your home for signs of water infiltration and rot. Window sills, door jambs, fascia, and soffits are particularly susceptible. When gutters aren't working properly, water will spill from the gutter rather than being carried away to the downspouts, splashing over the exterior wood portions of your home.
3. Overflowing gutters: Gutters can overflow for a number of reasons. It could be that they're full of debris which lessens their ability to carry water towards the downspouts.Then it's just a matter of giving them a good cleaning. Low spots can also cause gutters to overflow every time it rains. But gutters may be too narrow to handle the amount of rain coming off your roof during a storm. If the gutters are not sloped downward enough towards the downspouts, this will also cause overflow.
4. Foundation and basement problems: When rainwater isn't carried away from your home properly, it can pool around the foundation. Sometimes this water will find its way into your basement. Look around your foundation for pooling water after it rains, mildew on the foundation walls, and signs of water in your basement. If your downspouts don't effectively carry water at least ten feet from your home, that water can find its way back towards the foundation.
5. Weak attachments: Your gutters are attached to your home with hangers or straps mounted to the fascia boards. If the hangers are spaced too far apart, over time they can begin to weaken and cause your gutters to sag. Water can collect in these low spots during a storm, which puts additional strain on the hangers and can eventually lead to the gutter pulling away from the fascia or falling off completely.
6. Yard erosion: Even if you don't observe water overflowing from your gutters during a storm, a sure sign is soil erosion and landscape plant damage. Look at the ground directly below the gutters for signs of soil being washed away from rainwater overflow. Also look at the areas where the downspouts drain the water into your yard. This water overflow not only erodes the soil, it can wash away mulch and damage shrubs and flowers from the excess water.