What Scary Stuff is Lurking in Your Home's Gutters?


Before Hurricane Florence made landfall, I decided it was a critical time to check out a garage gutter on our home. I have a tree that overhangs right there and is constantly dropping twigs and leaves- bad placement decision in hindsight. I noticed it wasn’t draining well after a heavy rainfall. Being the brave and careful DIYer in our home, I brushed up on ladder safety tips and ventured up to check it out.




Two tennis balls and a super-sized bouncy ball later, my gutter was back in business. While the tennis balls were easily removed from the gutter pipe, the giant bouncy ball was actually lodged in the downspout creating massive clog. I had to disconnect the downspout to finally free it. Thankfully, or maybe not, my college-age son is much more interested in girls than bouncy balls these days.

 Ahhh, gutters! Here at NNINS we know these unsung heroes are such an important part of your home’s water-proofing! Severe weather is typical this time of year especially with it being peak hurricane season. Most folks worry about the damaging effects of storm surge and wind, but hurricanes can certainly packed a damaging punch with massive amounts of rain.


The gutter system must do the mighty work of running massive amounts of water AWAY from the house. 

Travis, our NNINS home expert, says gutters are the #1 most neglected and problematic issue he sees in external home inspections. Critical during hurricane season but simple to fix. Just follow these three easy steps to ensure your gutters are ready and waiting for any watery assault.

1. Ensure your gutter has all the necessary components to work.  



If you’re missing any parts of your gutter system, a professional can repair it and also ensure your gutters are at a slight angle towards the downspout. Many DIYers make the mistake of hanging the gutters level allowing water to sit. Growth of moss or lichen in gutter pipes can indicate they’re not properly pitched. And that remaining water will also cause the gutter to sag over time making it even more ineffective.

2. Ensure your gutters are clear of any plant growth, leaves or debris (& bouncy balls). 



Clean out your gutter system twice a year: at the end of spring and the end of fall after all the leaves are off the trees. It’s also smart do it when someone is home to spot you. There are all kinds of tricks and gizmos to help with the job but if you do it routinely, it’s usually simple enough with a ladder, hose and gloves.



3. Be sure to have low-cost gutter extensions at the end of all downspouts (these need to be clog free as well)!




Downspout water that pools 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’s going, especially if you’re not the first owner of the home.

How far should those extensions go? It all depends on yard slope. You want to be sure you’re directing the water to continue to flow away from your house on its own. And be sure your gutters are not draining across your driveway or sidewalk. When temperatures drop during winter months, this runoff will freeze, creating a dangerous and slippery hazard!

Easy as 1,2,3! Sooo much better than a wet and moldy basement this winter! So, what could be lurking in your gutters? And how well are they protecting your home for Virginia's hurricane season? We’re bound to have plenty nice autumn days. So go make them awesome!