What's up with our weather? Did we even have a winter? The spring season in Virginia has become especially unpredictable and severe. From thunder hail and windstorms to balmy 70-degree afternoons, weird weather appears to be the new normal. Not that we need more after a usually wet winter, but there's one thing we can always count on this time of year in the Commonwealth: rain!
And heavy rains can bring significant troubles of their own for homeowners. Each spring, we see hundreds of home insurance claims due to gutter problems. Winter’s cold wind sends last year’s leaves and broken twigs and spring brings new spiraling seed pods. These can all fill and prevent your gutters from doing the mighty work of running all that Virginia rain AWAY from your house.
Justin, our home protection expert, says gutters are the #1 most neglected and problematic issue he sees in spring home claims. Costly ones too. We’ve had claims run upwards of $10,000- $12,000!
Fortunately, they are also easy to prevent.
Just answer these 3 simple questions to see if your gutters are ready to take on spring’s onslaught and avoid a costly claim:
1. Do your gutters have the right stuff?
If your gutters have holes, leaks or missing parts, a professional can quickly repair them and ensure they are properly angled towards the downspout. Gutters should be level from front to back but slope forward an inch or two for every 40 feet. Gutters that are not pitched correctly hold water and encourage the growth of vegetation, moss or lichen. And that remaining water will also cause gutters to sag over time making them even more ineffective.
2. Are your gutters clear of all old leaves, debris and plant growth?
Spring is the time to make sure your gutters are clear. Hire someone to clean them or DIY when someone is home to spot you on the ladder. If you keep up with it twice or so a year, it’s usually simple enough with a hose and gloves.
Justin says this last question is critical, so if your answer is "No", get it remedied asap!
3. Do you have gutter extensions at the end of all downspouts? (Yep, these need to be clog-free as well!)
Downspout water pooling close to the foundation is an invitation to a wet basement and ultimately costly water damage inside your home. If your downspouts extend underground, it’s a good idea to determine where that water is going, especially if you’re not the first owner of the home. How far should those extensions go? It all depends on the yard slope. You want to be sure you’re directing the water as far as it takes to continue to flow away from your house on its own.
Wild weather and heavy rains are part of spring in Virginia. Shoring up your gutters is the single most important thing you can do to prevent water damage to your home.