Your rain gutters – the long, hollow tubes attached to the edges of your roof – are a critical component of your home. These devices are mainly responsible for catching rainwater and diverting it away from your foundation. For your house to be dry and safe, it needs a gutter system that performs properly and smoothly. However, if there is standing water in your gutters, a host of different problems can occur, compromising the stability of your home.
Common Causes of Stagnant Water in Gutters
Because your gutters help protect your home against water-related damage, it is imperative that you patch up any problems right away. Here are the most common causes of standing water in gutters:
1. Clogged Downspouts
If rainwater or melting snow is accumulating in your gutters, it may indicate a clog in the downspout. This is the most recurrent problem that many residential owners have to deal with when it comes to their gutter systems. A number of different things can cause your gutter system to become obstructed, including leaves, pine needles, tree branches, animal nests and stray tennis and golf balls.
When left untreated, a clogged downspout can cause water to fill with water, resulting in extensive damage to the roof, siding and foundation. Unfortunately, clogs in the downspouts are often difficult to detect, but gutter maintenance professionals can help.
Schedule a gutter cleanup service twice a year: once in the fall when most leaves are off the trees and in the spring to take off birds’ nests and pine needles. Consider installing a high-quality gutter guard system if you have chronically clogged gutters. A screen over the gutter prevents leaves and other windswept debris from collecting in the gutter, which allows water to freely flow from the roof to the drain located in the ground.
2. Inadequate Slope
It is critical that rain gutters are installed by a residential roofing expert at the proper angle so runoff can be directed into the drainage without spilling in an uncontrolled manner. Make certain that these tubes slope – 1/2 inch for every 10 feet – toward a downspout. For gutters that run longer than 40 feet, it is recommended to pitch the gutter down from the middle to a downspout at each end of the gutter.
To confirm that your gutters are draining properly, take a quick look after a rainstorm. If water is pooling in a corner, and no rubble is present, then it is likely that your gutters are improperly sloped. Call a reliable gutter company to correct this problem immediately. Usually, the contractor will use a leveler to realign the incorrectly pitched gutter section. If bending the hanger – the tool that attaches the gutter to your roof – is not enough to set up the proper slope, then the gutter professional may recommend removing the entire section and re-hanging it. This especially applies to residences with seamless gutters.
The Dangers of Stagnant Water in Gutters
It is important to understand the effects of having stagnant water in your gutters for prolonged periods. This will allow you to perform the proper maintenance procedures necessary to avoid them.
1. Increased Pressure on the Foundation
Are your downspouts sending water too close to the foundation of your home and letting it stagnate? The foundation bears the weight of your entire house, so your gutter installation system should be able to direct the water to an appropriate site where it will not damage it. If the runoff is overflowing and pooling next to your house, it can put extreme pressure on your foundation. Check for puddles of standing water around your house.
If you see them, especially after a heavy storm event, it usually means the earth underneath is fully drenched in water. That ponderous, moisture-laden soil directly impacts the sides of your foundation. Moreover, when excessive volumes of water collects under the house, it can cause musty odors in the basement and seep through small cracks in the slab.
Many structural issues may occur when there is increased pressure on the foundation. To ward off these potential problems, the water should be discharged. A sump pump – a device that is placed in the basement – will typically handle water removal.
2. Settling Foundation
When there is an accumulation of water against the foundation of your home, in addition to its removal, you also have to deal with the aftermath of the water draining away. If stagnant water has been putting undue pressure on your foundation, when that excess water finally flows out, the foundation can shift and settle. A settling foundation is a serious deal for a homeowner. It can lead to cracks in the walls and foundation and uneven floors. In extreme cases, it can create cracks or shifts in other exterior structures, such as your masonry chimney. Swift action should be taken to prevent these structural complications from occurring to your home.
3. Flooded or Moldy Basement
While it may seem too far off, standing water in your gutter system can also lead to an unhealthy moisture level in your basement. This can mean instances of flooding in the basement during rainfall events. Too much dampness can also result in damaged walls and ceilings, and ruined furniture, rendering some of your stored possessions like fabrics and seasonal clothes in the basement useless. It can also promote mold and mildew growth along the basement walls if you are not careful.
4. Pest Growth
Another hazard that comes with standing water in gutters is pest growth, which can have a harmful effect on the health of the residents and their pets. The undisturbed, shallow pools of water in your gutters and foundation will attract mosquitoes and flies straight into your living space. Mosquitoes carry a host of diseases that can spread to people and infect pets with heartworms. Birds will also frequent your gutters, leaving behind their waste.
Simply, when you allow water to stagnate anywhere near your home, especially during the summer months, you are inviting pesky insects and animals and the diseases they carry into your backyard.
Gutter Maintenance Tips
Fortunately, all the hazards that result from stagnant water in gutters are completely avoidable. With proper cleaning and maintenance, you can keep your gutters in tip-top shape and your home free of structural damage and health risks. Here are some tips:
Inspect and clean your gutters at least twice a year. Install gutter guards if necessary.
Clear your roof. Use a rake to remove leaves and debris or let a professional handle it.
Check for holes, leaks and rust. If you see holes or cracks, patch them up using a metal flashing. If there are leaks, apply new sealant and caulking. If rust is evident, it may be time to replace your gutter system.
Let’s Start a Conversation!
Northeast Gutters and Remodeling has been providing top-notch gutter installation, cleaning, and repair services since 2004. Other exterior improvement solutions we offer for residential and commercial properties include roofing, snow and ice removal, exterior painting, siding installation and more. Schedule a consultation or request a free, no-obligation quote with us today! Call our professional team at (860) 899-7878, or fill out our convenient online form. We will be in touch with you as soon as possible.