Cleaning every rain gutter should be a routine autumn maintenance project. In the Madison WI area, after this year’s torrential rains and high winds a pre-winter checkup can spot weakness and head off major roof repair. Gutters full of leaves, twigs and other wind-blown debris are prime candidates for mid-winter clogs. The weight of snow and ice can cause structural damage to the roof as well as the rain gutter, downspouts and adjacent walls. Checking now to be sure fasteners are secure, gutters aren’t pulling away from the house and there are no cracks of leaks gives you time to correct any potential problems.
A Rain Gutter Pre-Winter Check List
A routine fall checklist is basically the same as the one you should use next spring after the rigors of winter have stressed a rain gutter even more. The checklist includes:
- Look for loose of missing pieces – high winds from summer thunderstorms and the impact of relentless downpours combine to add more weight than some structures can endure. While the gutter may not fall off completely, if it is loose, cracked or hangers or fastener are missing snow and ice will finish the job.
- Remove Clogs – summer storms come with high winds and all kinds of debris wind up on your roof. Accompanying downpours wash branches, twigs and leaves into the rain gutter. Over time they build into a dam keeping rain from finding its way through the system. Glogged gutters mean water is backing up under shingles or running off at the base of your house – impacting siding and potentially leaking into your home. An overlooked clog is real trouble, resulting in roof repair, siding damage and water where it doesn’t belong. A severe clog can be spotted from the ground when you see stains on the siding or signs of puddling on the ground below. A clog left alone in the fall is an ideal foundation for a roof damaging ice dam.
- Inspect for leaks – the hot summer sun contributes to leaks, especially on older installations or a rain gutter previously damaged. A system that doesn’t include seamless gutters has the most potential for leaks because as they age, metal edges weaken and can expand – especially of stressed by a clog, ice dam or heavy snow load.
- Signs of old age – older homes have more trouble with rain gutters. Nothing lasts forever and the stresses of snow, ice and sunlight contribute to corrosion and weakness. Damage from ladder dents or falling branches are also factors in limiting useful life. Missing, loosened or bent fasteners are common as are holes, cracks around seams and rust on older installations.
- Include all the components – downspouts are easily overlooked when inspecting the edge of the roof. Just because you don’t see debris in the rain gutter doesn’t mean there isn’t any in the nearest downspout. Bent of separating downspouts misdirect runoff and can lead to water in
your basement. The weight of a downspout full of water pulling on siding and fascia can cause structural damage.
Inspect Now, Avoid Roof Repair Later
If you feel confident in your ability, get on a ladder and inspect your rain gutter system and the entire roof before the first freeze. If you don’t, contact a professional roofing contractor – the pros know what to look for, including:
- Debris blocking the flow if rainwater – or slowing it down and ready to block it with a little ice or snow. Leaves, twigs, seedpods and anything that might have blown in during a recent storm will freeze and jam.
- Seams and connections expand and wear so look for cracks, gaps, misalignments and holes.
- Use a garden hose to make sure downspouts are flowing smoothly.
- Inspect the line of the gutters looking for sagging, bending and separation from the house – look closely for heaving, curling or shifting shingles near the edge where an ice dam may occur.
- If there’s some kind of gutter cover or protection system, make sure it is working and not contributing to the problem. Debris jammed in or around an old system is often a worse problem than having no gutter covers at all.
Anything made from metal or plastic will degrade in Wisconsin’s changeable climate and hot sun. It’s a matter of time. While you cannot prevent it, you can take steps to delay it. Quality protective debris guards on rain gutters allow water in and keep clog-building debris out.
Take Advantage of Latest Gutter Guard Technology
Rain gutter covers get better all the time and contribute to better performance and less roof repair. Taking advantage of the advances in materials and techniques makes sense. A high-tech installation such as the Gutter Guard System is engineered to perform. The benefits of the latest technology include:
- Resistance to the damaging impact of the sun’s UV rays
- Standing up to extreme shifts in temperature – the hottest and the coldest Madison offers
- Structurally sound framework to withstand the rigors of extreme weather – anodized aluminum that hardens over time for longer life
- Surgical steel mesh that won’t rust, corrode or weaken with age
- Mesh holes just small enough to catch but not clog – holes that are too small contribute to problems
- A system that’s sealed – firmly fastened and contained so it doesn’t expand and contract with temperature extremes and allow materials to sneak beneath the cover
Professional Inspection Adds Peace of Mind
After local damage from summer storms, concern for your roof and rain gutters as winter approaches makes sense. A roof or downspout damaged in August opens the doors to serious trouble in January. For a professional inspection of your roof and related systems, contact Sims Exteriors and Remodeling at 608-825-4500. Or email us for advice and counsel. Our professionals are ready to help avoid roof repair, install Gutter Guard Systems and protect your Madison WI home’s rain gutter network.