The Pacific Northwest is an eco-paradise, where humans cohabit peacefully with the wilderness; this means that most buildings are surrounded by trees and bushes that drop needles and leaves throughout the year. While this can be quite beautiful, it can also lead to clogged gutters that no longer effectively drain water away from your home or garage.
We usually think of water damage as something that happens inside our homes, such as after a flood or due to a broken appliance, but standing water near the exterior of your home can be just as pernicious. When gutters can’t funnel rain down to the ground, it begins to seep into the roof and walls of a structure, causing unique problems that can be even harder to detect than those within the building itself. This post will explore five of the most widespread issues related to clogged gutters, then explain why contacting a water damage remediation expert is your best bet for a safe home.
The gutters will begin to sag and pull away from the structure
The damage from this issue understandably starts at the source: the gutters themselves. Gutters are not meant to bear heavy loads, because they are supposed to direct water and small organic substances away from the roof rather than hold onto them. The braces that hold up the channels are not really designed to hold much more than the gutter and whatever water is moving through them during a storm, so they cannot handle sustained loads of stagnant water and debris.
When gutters become overburdened with material, the braces may pull away from the roof and start sagging, which can expose vulnerable areas of the structure. They will also back up even more, which will exacerbate the growing water damage.
Damage will spread to the soffits and fascia, which are meant to protect the roof and siding
Underneath your gutters are the soffits and fascia, which help to ventilate the roof and protect the siding. This part of the overhang is essential to the well-being of your home’s exterior because it ensures that air circulates through the roofing structure and prevents water incursions into the siding. However, this system can only do its job if the gutter is in good repair; when the gutters grow clogged, it can weaken the fascia and allow water to enter into the soffits, causing water damage underneath the siding. This can even allow pests, like termites, to infiltrate the siding, which will lead to thousands of dollars in pest extermination down the line.
Your roof might grow waterlogged, causing serious leaks inside the building
Your gutters hug the roof, channeling water into the downspout so that it doesn’t accumulate on top of the building; nearly every roof has at least some slope to it, directing water down to the gutters and away from this most vital frontline defense of your home’s interior. When drains become overloaded with organic material like leaves, pine needles, and pine cones, the water begins to back up onto the roof and sit there, softening the shingles and infiltrating into the structures below. This reduces the lifespan of your roof, requiring expensive repairs and replacements far ahead of schedule. If the soffit and fascia are also damaged, you will be looking at extensive exterior repairs.
Water will flow directly down to the foundation, potentially leading to landscape erosion and flooding in the basement
It might surprise you to know that problems with gutters can cause problems not just above, but below too. When gutters are not functioning as they should, water flows down the walls of the building and begins to pool near the ground, which can wear away at the foot of the structure. You might notice mold or moss overgrowth near the base of your walls, or there might be soil erosion; while this may not seem like a serious issue depending on how much you like your garden, this can suggest that water is starting to seep into your basement. During heavy rainfall, you could see basement flooding that will require costly water damage remediation – all that might have been prevented by tending to the gutters.
You might even find foundation damage that could imperil the whole structure
The end result of all this could be incredibly dangerous: foundation damage, something that could even get your home condemned. Water seeks the lowest possible area to pool in, which means that after it has infiltrated your basement, it will start hunting for ways to reach the foundation, where it will sit and slowly erode the structural integrity of your house. When the water reaches the foundation, it will soften the cement or concrete, leading to the house shifting and sinking over time. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need foundation repair, a time-consuming and exhaustive process – and if it’s not caught in time, you might have to leave your home entirely.
Gutter clogs may not seem like a big deal, but they can lead to major problems that require costly repairs
It’s truly hard to believe that all this can be the result of too many pine needles in your gutters; however, every part of a home works together to keep you safe and dry, and gutters are one of your house’s first defenses against water damage. By safely shuttling rain away from the roof and down to the soil, your gutters prevent soaked shingles, waterlogged basements, and compromised foundations that can seriously imperil your home.
The first step in reducing the risk of water damage is to have your gutters cleaned regularly; you should remove all leaf litter and pine needles by hand, then use a water source like a garden hose to spray out any remaining material. Don’t use a pressure washer, as they are not designed to withstand such forces. You can also install gutter guards that will allow rainwater to enter but keep other debris out, though you should still investigate the gutters for clogs on a regular basis.
However, once the damage has been done, it’s essential that you get in touch with an expert in water damage remediation so that you can protect your greatest investment from serious issues.