Most of us probably don’t think about our gutters until it comes time to clean them, but this innocuous bit of engineering does a lot to protect our homes. A little bit of water from rain or melting snow may not seem that harmful, but it can cause a lot of damage to your home’s foundation over time if it isn’t managed properly. The gutters on our homes help keep the foundations of our homes safe from water damage, which can create a variety of secondary problems.
The Importance of Good Gutters
The main purpose of gutters is to prevent water damage to our homes. When it rains, water runs down off the sides of our roofs and collects in the gutters. From the gutters, water flows through the downspouts, where it is directed away from the foundations of our homes and towards water collection areas such as storm drains. A good gutter system can protect your foundation, stop soil erosion, and prevent mold and mildew.
Protect Your Foundation
If water is allowed to pool around your foundation, it can cause extensive damage over time. Over time our foundations develop small cracks. These may seem relatively minor, but water can turn this small problem into a much bigger one. Water expands when it freezes, widening the tiny cracks in your foundation. Water can also find its way into your basement, causing flooding and encouraging the growth of mold and mildew.
The best way to protect your foundation is to direct water away from your home. This can be done in a variety of ways such as:
- Making sure your gutter system is appropriately configured to move water away from your home.
- Modifying your landscape so that water flows downhill and away from your home.
- Creating a place for water to go, such as directing it towards a storm drain or configuring your landscape so that your lawn and garden can take advantage of the diverted rainwater.
Stop Soil Erosion
Over time flowing water causes soil erosion, which can lead to severe problems with your foundation. If too much soil is removed from the area around your house, it may cause your foundation to shift. In turn, this can damage the foundation, and can also cause wall, floor, chimney and roof problems.
Keeping water away from the soil around your home, and directing it somewhere else, is essential to preventing soil erosion.
Prevent Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are not just bad for your home. They can also cause a wide variety of health problems if left unchecked. The best way to get rid of a mold or mildew problem is to stop it from forming in the first place. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, so you will want to make sure that your house stays nice and dry.
Keeping Your Gutters in Good Repair
Your gutters can only protect your home if they stay unobstructed and in good repair. You should check your gutters at least once per year (ideally in the summer) and be sure to address any problems before the weather becomes too wet.
If you have large trees around your home, you have likely noticed that small branches, leaves, and other debris can build up in your gutter. These blockages can cause your gutters to overflow, allowing rainwater to collect near your home. The best way to keep your gutters unobstructed, and not have to worry about cleaning them so often, is to invest in a gutter guard.
Your gutters do a lot to keep your home cozy, dry, and damage free but they can only do their job properly if they are configured correctly and kept in good repair. Prevent damage by keeping water away from your home and make sure to check up on your gutters regularly so that you can address any potential problems before they arise.