Rain gutters are often overlooked and under-appreciated. Broken, loose and leaking gutters and downspouts are not only unattractive they represent a risk to the roof of your Madison WI home. To avoid costly repairs, roof maintenance inspections including gutters should be a regular springtime task.
Check Rain Gutters for Winter Stress
Most people consider maintenance for rain gutters to be a fall or early winter concern – removing fallen leaves and debris. That is a critical element in good roof maintenance. Checking again in the spring for damage from ice, snow and winter stress is also critical.
A springtime checklist includes surveying the whole roof:
- Loose or missing gutters – high winds combined with the weight of wet snow can loosen rain gutters to the point where they separate from the structure. Too much weight and they fall off completely leaving a portion of the roof, foundation and landscape below vulnerable.
- Clogged gutters – far more difficult to spot than a missing piece, a clog is the result of debris that blocks the flow of water and often creates ice dams. Signs of a clog include stains on the outside of the gutter where water has overflowed and possibly on shingles. Once a clog is located the debris has to be removed.
- Leaking gutters – the impact of direct sunlight plus harsh weather causes leaks and cracks. If you suspect a leak, spray the roof above. An installation without seamless gutters has the most potential for leaks – leaks develop where sections come together. If a downspout is clogged in winter, ice can build up at the end of the run and cause a leak around the endcap even on seamless installations.
- Worn out installations – nothing last forever and older homes have more problems with rain gutters. Corrosion, too much snow and ice, the effects of sunlight and damage (dents from a ladder or fallen branch) all reduce the lifespan of every installation. Look for missing, loose or bent fasteners, holes and rust on older gutters.
- Don’t forget downspouts – a downspout that’s obviously clogged, bent or pulling away from the house leads to misdirected runoff. Water from the roof is meant to be directed away from the foundation. When that doesn’t happen an assortment of bad things can happen – water in the basement, weakened foundations and damaged landscape plans for starters. The weight of a downspout pulling on the siding and fascia near the roof can lead to structural damage there, too.
Get Started Early
The best defense against further damage from rain gutters in need of repair is to get a jump on maintenance requirements. Complete springtime inspection as soon as possible. Then as soon as it’s safe to climb a ladder, you can complete these quick fixes:
- Remove any debris stuck in the gutter – leaves, twigs, seed pods or anything else that may have blown in over the winter, frozen and jammed the route of flowing water.
- Take a close look at seams and connections, checking for gaps and cracks
- Make sure water flows smoothly through downspouts
- Look closely for any signs of heaving, curling or shifting of shingles near the edge of the roof where an ice dam may have forced water underneath
Prevention Possibilities For Rain Gutters
You can’t prevent the wear and stress of Wisconsin’s climate, but you can install measures to protect property from the worst of it. Custom-made debris guards can be installed to keep everything but water out of your rain gutters.
Even if your home has such a feature, check it regularly. The latest in technology has improved performance and reduced failures. Older installations may not be working as well as they should – or working at all. Debris jammed in or under an old gutter protection system can be worse than an uncovered one.
TIP FROM A PRO – Anything made of metal or plastic will corrode and disintegrate under the blistering sun, cracking cold and high winds in Madison WI. A debris-blocking system installed 5-10 years ago may not be doing its job today.
Modern debris guards like the Gutter Guard System are designed to stand up to:
- The devastating, long-time impact of UV rays from the sun
- Extremes of heat and cold, freeze/thaw
- All the leaves, twigs, needles and seeds deposited on the roof by nature and storms
A reliable rain gutter protection system features:
- A robust framework to withstand the stresses of extreme weather – unlike some materials, anodized aluminum hardens when exposed to outdoor elements, providing a longer service life
- Mesh that won’t deteriorate – material like surgical stainless steel that won’t rust, corrode or weaken with age
- Mesh with holes small enough to catch but not clog – small holes can be more problem than cure
- Is the system sealed – a firmly fastened and contained system doesn’t expand and contract with temperature changes that can allow debris to infiltrate and cause failures
Insure You Roof’s Safety
For a springtime evaluation of your roof, work with the professionals at Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. Call the team serving greater Dane County, including Middleton, Waunakee, Fitchburg, Oregon Verona, McFarland, Stoughton, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie and Deforest.
Roof damage reduces the value and security of your home. Contact Sims Exteriors and Remodeling at 608-825-4500, or email us to schedule a roof maintenance check and inspection of the rain gutters on your Madison WI home.