Your eavestroughs are one of the most important elements of a roof system, and yet, they rarely get any attention.
If you’re like most people, you’re unlikely to ever think about the condition of your eavestroughs, unless, of course, something goes wrong. So what makes eavestroughs so important?
As the name suggests, an eavestrough (also called gutter) is a trough that is attached to the eaves (edges parallel to the ridge) of your roof. Its main purpose is to collect rainwater and channel it away from your home’s foundation.
For them to function as intended, your gutters need to be kept in good condition. You can ensure that by watching for these 6 common signs that lead to problems with your gutters.
1. Clogged Gutter Downspouts
As the seasons change, the amount of fallen leaves can quickly add up and fill your gutters, especially when you live in an area with a lot of trees around. However, a few dry leaves here and there won’t compromise the integrity of your eavestroughs. Problems only start to happen when the leaves become wet and compressed from the rain and cause a build-up inside the downpipes—the troughs that connect to your eavestrough to channel water away from your house.
At that point, water will have no other way but to flow over the eavestroughs and down the exterior walls of your home and eventually to your home’s foundation.
You can easily avoid this by simply making sure your eavestroughs remain clean throughout the year.
2. Improper Sloping
You may think your gutters run parallel to the roofline of your house, but they are actually slightly sloped to ensure proper drainage, unless they’re really not, in which case you have a problem.
To ensure your gutters drain properly, your contractor has to make sure they slope the gutters towards the downspouts. A good rule of thumb here is a minimum of ¼” for every 10 feet.
When this is not the case, water will tend to settle and put pressure on the eavestroughs.
The idea is to have your gutter sloped towards the downspouts but not so much that the water runs fast and spills over the ends, and not so little that the water creates a puddle somewhere in the middle.
3- Your Gutter Hangers Are Spaced Too Far Apart
Hangers are what hold the entire gutter system to your roofline and if they’re not spaced properly, you risk having your eavestroughs sag and create weak spots for water, ice, or snow to settle in.
Eventually, the excessive weight will become too much for the hangers to support. Your eavestroughs will detach from the roof and fall off.
To avoid this, you want to make sure that the hangers are not spaced too far apart. No more than 18” to be exact, especially if you live in a colder climate region. This is to account for the added weight of ice and snow.
If you don’t want to worry about hanger spacing, you can install a continuous leaf guard like T-rex Leaf Guard system instead. (https://www.alu-rex.com/en/gutters/new-gutters/pro-series/t-rex)
This system will not only keep your gutters maintenance free. It will act as a continuous hanger system along the entire eavestrough line instead of every 18”.
4- Ice Dams
Ice dams are probably the most annoying and difficult problems to deal with when it comes to protecting your eavestroughs from potential damage.
Ice dams are the result of a freeze-thaw cycle of accumulated snow on your roof, which results in the formation of ice on the lower portion of your roof near the edge and on the eavestroughs.
Ice dams can weigh your eavestroughs down and cause them to detach from your home and eventually fall off. Once they hit the ground and lose their good looks, a repair may no longer be an option anymore.
Because ice dams form due to insufficient roof ventilation and/or inadequate attic insulation, among other things, you want to watch for that part in order to keep the integrity of your gutters and your roof in check.
5- Having A Gutter-Sections System
If you have a gutter-sections system like the ones you find at the hardware store, chances are, those 10-foot connected sections will eventually leak through the seams. And no, installing an aluminium system over a vinyl one will not make the biggest difference either. You’re much safer with a seamless K-style aluminium 5” gutter system. Your contractor will use an eavestrough machine to run continuous pieces appropriately to the length of your roofline, as opposed to 10-foot sections connected together.
6- Missing Roof Drip Edge And Insufficient Shingle Overhang
Not having drip edge on your roof doesn’t automatically mean you’re in trouble. Sometimes you might get away with it if the first course of shingles has an overhang of ¾” from the roof edge and/or if your roof has a higher pitch.
Drip edge is a piece of flashing that goes along the roof eaves to help divert water away from the roof edge and into the eavestrough.
When you don’t have drip-edge as part of your roof system and the shingles aren’t far enough from the roof edge, you risk having rainwater sneak in behind the eavestroughs, and cause damage to your home’s foundation.
If you don’t have an aluminium fascia, the fascia board will get wet. Over time, the fascia board will rot and the eavestroughs will tend to pull away from it and cause you all sorts of problems.
The eavestroughs detaching from the fascia is a more common issue with older gutter systems that used nails rather than screws, to attach to the roof.
How to Prevent Future Problems:
One way you can prevent a small problem from turning into a big one is by scheduling yearly regular maintenance for your eavestroughs.
A good rule of thumb is to do it twice a year. One visit by the end of fall, when the trees have shed all of their leaves, and one during spring, to make sure the gutters are ready to handle the pouring rain.
If you want to skip the cleaning part, consider installing a leaf-guard like the T-rex leaf guard system. It comes with a 40-year clog free warranty.
Also, if you have a gutter-section system or a smaller 4” wide eavestrough, for the love of efficiency! Consider upgrading to a bigger, seamless, 5” eavestrough with bigger downspouts and save yourself money in the long run.