Though gutter systems are inherently simple by design, there are several things that could go wrong and lead to some significant gutter systems damage. Fortunately, most of the problems homeowners experience with their gutters are avoidable. Learning more about potential issues and the extent of damage those issues can cause will help you make better choices about your gutter maintenance routine.
The Purpose of Downspouts
Downspouts are an important part of your gutter system. They run vertically to help move water being collected by the horizontal gutters along your roof downward toward the ground, where it can then be moved out and away from your home. There are numerous issues that can plague downspouts and cause homeowners a significant amount of grief, particularly when extensive damage occurs.
The Most Common Downspout Problems
- Improper Drainage – If your downspouts don’t carry water far enough away from your home, or if they deposit water in an area that slopes back toward your home, this can cause the ground around your foundation to become saturated – exactly what gutters are designed to prevent. Over time, this can cause cracks in your foundation and major structural damage to your home. Ensuring that the water from the downspouts drains in a proper location is crucial.
- Secure Connections – Downspout connections are designed to attach the downspout to the main gutter system, and in most cases, there is only one way for them to fit. Installing them the wrong way can create leaks, leading to much of the water escaping the system and falling near your home.
- Clogs – This is by far the most common gutter issue homeowners across the country face. Often, people who make gutter cleaning a DIY job will clean the horizontal sections, but do not stop to check the downspouts. When water cannot flow through the downspout, it backs up and spills over the top of the gutter system, which can lead to the same foundational damage as a leak. Removing clogs from your downspouts will prevent this, but you can also buy wire strainer baskets that fit into the connections where the downspout meets the gutter. These can prevent large debris from finding its way into the downspout.
- Damaged or Missing Downspouts – Damaged or missing downspouts can render the rest of your gutter system virtually useless. Without these, water ends up right next to your home, and that’s a huge issue. It’s important to take a walk around the outside of your home now and then to check the condition of your gutters. Replace or repair any damaged sections, and if the damage is significant – or if parts of the downspout are missing – this should be addressed immediately.
- Linked to a Footing Drain – Sometimes homeowners prefer to drain their downspouts underground, and in some locations, it’s a city requirement. However, linking your gutters to the same lines as your floor drains, interior drains, or even your sewer system will inevitably cause issues. These lines were not made to handle typical household use on top of the volume of water that comes from your roof. If you wish to drain your gutter system in this way, make sure that provide an adequate and separate drain line. In areas with ordinances that forbid allowing rainwater to drain directly into the ground, homeowners connect their gutters to the storm drains.
As you can see, there are several unique problems that can occur with your downspouts, but almost all of them can be prevented with regular maintenance and inspections. If you see any issues, be sure that you address them right away. Bear in mind that many companies provide affordable gutter cleaning and inspection services to provide you with some additional peace of mind, as well.