Gutters are one part of the home that just tends to fade into the background- if they're there and they're not doing anything extremely wrong, you're unlikely to notice them much outside of your regularly scheduled maintenance checks and cleanings. But in addition to being a vital part of your home stormwater management system, gutters actually keep a lot of bad stuff from happening to your house.
In fact, with each rainfall, your home could be accruing more water damage every minute if your gutters were clogged or leaky (or worse, not there at all), which is why your regular maintenance of gutters is so critical.
Here are three parts of your home's exterior that these unassuming heroes save from water damage every time it rains.
1. Your Roof
If critical parts of the gutter system, such as the flashing, are missing (and that's an easy part to miss if you're not an expert because to the untrained eye the house still looks completely gutter-fitted), your roof can sustain considerable damage. That's because the gutter flashing protects the underside of the eaves from exposure to the moisture of the water flowing through the gutters, as well as from potential insect damage from termites or other pests.
In addition to these types of damage, a well-kept gutter prevents the type of water damage that occurs when you don't clean your gutters out and they end up clogged and overflowing. This problem can cause direct water damage to the roof.
2. Your Siding
There are so many ways that your siding can become damaged when gutters are lacking, incorrectly installed, or poorly maintained. For example, water splashing up against the siding can cause discoloration and staining, whereas water that gets trapped in the siding can cause siding rot (if it's wood siding), mold in the insulation if it gets behind the siding, and other types of siding damage such as swelling, warping and cracking.
3. Your Foundation Wall
The foundation is definitely the most critical and, well, foundational item on this list. While the foundation itself is technically below your house, at least six inches of the foundation wall should be visible from above ground and outside (if it's not, you're leaving yourself open to termites and other types of damage).
Your gutters must defend your foundation from water damage, because foundation damage can be so hard and expensive to repair that if the damage is bad enough you could be better off buying a new house. Keeping your gutters in good shape is a small price to pay to avoid that!
However, as you can probably guess, keeping your gutters in good order so they can protect your foundation isn't as simple as keeping them clear of debris and making sure there are no pieces missing (although that's a good start). You also need to make sure you have:
Plenty of downspouts so gutters don't get overwhelmed in rainstorms
Downspout extensions that carry water 10-20 feet away from the house
Roof shingles that align correctly with the gutters rather than overshooting (or undershooting)
Checking for these items, as well as regular gutter maintenance that includes inspecting for leaks and other types of damage, will help you ensure that your gutters can continue taking good care of your foundation.
These are just three aspects of your home that well-functioning gutters protect. They also protect windowsills, fascia and trim, and many other areas of your home from water damage. If you'd like more information about how we can help you with gutter installation or repairs, feel free to get in touch with Total Home Exteriors today!