Despite increasing the value of property, providing shade, cooling the house, and generally being part of picket fence dreams, trees are a nightmare for gutters. The solution is not to cut down all your trees but to be aware of the problems they cause and keep them well pruned. No matter how carefully you tend to them, though, they will still drop leaves and twigs.
Debris In Gutters Unmoved by Rain or Snow
That is the primary way that trees, whether overgrown or not, result in problems for gutters. Broken twigs and falling leaves collect in them, dropped by squirrels and carried by wind, ultimately clogging the gutters. Obviously, the more tree, the more of this debris, although it will still accumulate and require attention.
Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that water will clear that debris right out when it starts to rush through the gutters. They know the leaves are there, but they think a hard rain or the melt of a heavy snowfall will take care of the problem. Instead, the debris prevents the movement of water, and it stands in the gutter, the first of snowballing problems.
Basic Health Of Family And House At Risk
If the weather is warm, rainwater that builds up in the gutters offers an ideal environment for mosquitoes, including those carrying the West Nile virus. If it is winter, that water is going to freeze, increasing the weight load on gutter fasteners in addition to causing their expansion. In every season, fasteners that no longer hold the gutters tight against the fascia ultimately mean water dripping against the foundation of the house.
Denting is another problem for gutters that comes with increasing probability when trees are allowed to sprawl too far. Typically made from aluminum, gutters can easily be dented by falling branches and crimped by crawling vines. The closer a tree is allowed to come to the roof, the more likely it is that falling branches will damage both roof and gutters.
Downspouts capture water traveling through a gutter system, and direct it away from the foundation of a home. Water is a precious natural resource and with this in mind, some homeowners attempt to reuse rainwater to irrigate their lawns and gardens. By capturing the runoff from the gutter and downspout system, a rain barrel stores water for reuse as needed. Thanks to rain barrels, almost any homeowner can easily reuse water that falls from the sky.
A rain barrel is an above-ground receptacle that can be attached to a downspout. It can be attached directly or connected to a downspout diverter. Installation of a diverter allows people who live in cold regions to suspend water harvesting efforts for the winter. A diverter also automatically directs water back into the gutter system before the rain barrel can overflow.
Rain barrels are designed to capture water, not debris, so the gutter system should be equipped with a filtering device. The downspout is then diverted into the rain barrel, maintaining downward slope towed this water receptacle. Plastic, metal, fiberglass, and concrete barrels are available, ranging in size from 50 to over 300 gallons.
A diverter fits directly on the downspout and features a hose that connects it to the rain barrel. The diverter should be the proper size for the downspout and the hose must be long enough to reach from the diverter to the rain barrel storing the water. A hose outlet may be on the side or at the bottom of the diverter unit.
Water collected in a rain barrel can be distributed to the lawn or garden through a garden hose, soaker hose, or watering can. Elevating the storage tank should naturally increase water pressure and a compatible pump does this mechanically. With a rain barrel installed at the end of it, a downspout becomes a recycling device. If you have any further questions about setting up a rain barrel with your gutter system, feel free to give us a call.
Gutter systems serve the same basic function: channeling water away from the home. However, a variety of materials and designs are used to create these, resulting in systems with unique features and benefits. Before having new gutters installed, homeowners should review the options to identify which system is most appropriate for their needs.
A half-round gutter is the most common type and it features an open top. Addition of a cover, guard, filter, or screen prevents debris from collecting in the gutter and blocking some or all of the water from flowing into the downspout. When water fills up the gutter, it then flows over the edge, running down the fascia board or exterior of the house or falling onto the ground. In all cases, damage can result, so a protective or debris collection feature is recommended.
Some gutters feature a plate or screen that contains slots or holes small enough to permit water entry but trap debris. The debris remains on top of the plate or screen, where it dries and is eventually blown away by the wind. A filtering device is a more modern incarnation featuring open cell foam. Another type of system channels water to flow in one direction while debris travels in another direction.
The most effective systems allow only water to enter the gutter, eliminating the need for gutter cleaning. However, most systems permit some accumulation of debris, making periodic maintenance a necessity. Homeowners should consider the amount of debris that could potentially fall into their gutters and select the system that minimizes maintenance. We frequently recommend the K-Guard Gutter Protection System because of how well it keeps debris out of the gutter system.
Cost is another variant with these systems because different materials carry different price tags. Gutter protection systems may be made from steel, aluminum, copper, PVC, polypropylene, or a special polypropylene foam. Steel or aluminum screens tend to be the least expensive and foam systems tend to be the most costly.
One easy way to prevent water from seeping into the home is to keep gutters clean so debris does not prevent water from flowing through the downspouts. Proper placement of downspouts is the key to keeping water away from the home foundation. Downspouts should enable draining at a steep pitch so water travels away from the foundation rather than pooling in the surrounding area and eventually seeping into the house.
During installation, downspouts are placed with the goal of getting all rainwater to run off the home. This requires some careful thought because roofs have different pitches and configurations that cause water to flow in different directions. The simple act of relocating a downspout can prevent wetness in a crawl space or basement.
If downspouts are not properly positioned, their discharge can back up behind pavers, stones, soil, or unsealed cement. The water is then held against the wall of the foundation. If this wall contains any flaws, the moisture can seep through into the home. In other cases, the wet soil can rise above the foundation wall, allowing water to enter between this wall and the structure, then traveling into the interior of the home.
In urban areas, downspouts sometimes discharge onto driveways or sidewalks that are insufficiently pitched away from the home. Water can then sit against the home and eventually enter through the foundation. In this situation, the downspout should be moved to a different location on the gutter, which should be repitched so water will travel down to the new location of the downspout.
When determining where to have downspouts placed, homeowners should rely on advice from professionals. Based on previous experience, these experts know which configuration will best direct water away from the home. If dampness is present in a basement or crawl space, repositioning the downspouts may be a cost-effective solution.