For many homeowners, cleaning gutters is one of the peskiest outdoor chores. But the reality of cleaning out your gutters two to four times a year is that it can be a major safety issue. Each year in the U.S., more than 500,000 people are treated and about 300 people die from ladder-related injuries according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When gutters get clogged, the rainwater collects around your home and absorbs in the soil around the foundation. This causes hydrostatic pressure that can damage your foundation. When you calculate the costs of foundation repair, it is easy to see why keeping the gutters clean is such an important task.
With simple systems such as gutter guards, you can have clog-free gutters without doing any of the work. Gutter guards are a perforated covering fit on top of your gutter that allows water to flow through, but blocks debris from clogging your gutters or downspouts.
What Can Get Caught in My Gutters?
- Pine Needles
- Pooling Water
The Benefits of Installing Gutter Guards
The ultimate benefit of installing gutter guards is that they block natural debris from building in your gutters, ultimately saving you the time and effort of regularly cleaning them out.
1. Minimize Ice Dam Formation
Ice dams are all too common in the snowy, frozen Michigan winters. When temperatures are below freezing, water trapped in your gutters by clogged debris can freeze and cause ice dams to form. These can cause water damage to your roof and will shorten the lifespan of your gutters.
While gutter guards don’t directly prevent ice dams, they do prevent debris buildup, which is a major catalyst for ice dams. Keeping your gutters clean along with investing in other gutter protections like heat cables for the frigid winter months can aid in preventing ice dams and the subsequent damage to your roof and foundation.
2. Minimize Fire Hazards
Leaves and twigs in the gutters and downspouts are a fire hazard. Embers from bonfires, barbecues, burn pits, or other backyard activities can produce flyaway embers that ultimately risks catching fire on your gutter debris.
Though not as frequent as drier states like California or Colorado, wildfires also present a concern when it comes to your gutters. Did you know that approximately 500 wildfires are reported in Michigan each year? While you needn’t live in fear over embers from wildfires in your state, it’s wise to ensure your gutters are cleaned out and well equipped in the case of a nearby fire.
3. Prolong the Lifespan of Your Gutters
When moisture-laden debris sits in your gutters for days, weeks, or even months, it can lead to corrosion. When gutters begin to rust, they will start to leak and become useless. If you usually skip gutter cleanups each year, you also may find yourself regularly replacing your gutters with the cheapest option you can find. However, gutter guards can be the one-time investment you can make that keeps the gutter system itself healthy in the long run and makes maintenance less strenuous for you as a homeowner.
4. Discourages Pests from Nesting in Your Gutters
Pests like wasps or bees, rats, mice, or gnats like to take shelter in gutters insulated by debris buildup. You may even stumble across larger animals like chipmunks, opossums, or birds nesting in your gutters as well. Since gutter guards provide a flat surface on top of your gutter where debris can’t easily build up, they make your gutters much less attractive to pests.
What Happens When Gutters Malfunction?
While gutters may not seem like they play an important role in ensuring foundation health, if they fail, your home will suffer greatly. Let’s take a look at all the ways malfunctioning gutters can impact your foundation.
Unless your yard slopes away from your home, water from leaky gutters will pool around your foundation. Since concrete is a porous material, water will slowly move into tiny cracks in the foundation walls and floor.
Due to the freeze and thaw cycle, during which soil expands and contracts with ice and snowmelt, hydrostatic pressure will bow your foundation walls causing horizontal or stairstep cracks. Over time, they will widen, opening the floodgates for leaks and even structural failure if ignored long enough.
When water oversaturates the soil around your foundation walls, hydrostatic pressure in the ground increases. In other words, all that water pushes against the walls, forcing them to bow. This problem should be addressed on time since it can lead to structural instability.
When it comes to your foundation, settlement is one of the most serious problems you could deal with. When the water coming from the gutters finally flows away, it could take some of the soil with it, causing gaps in the ground. In addition, if your home was built on expansive soils, this amount of water can cause shifts in the soil, which could eventually result in foundation settlement.
Waterproofing Solutions from Foundation Systems of Michigan
Luckily, seamless gutters and gutter guards are not the only waterproofing solutions that can keep your home safe from water damage. Here are other ways you can drain water away from your property.
Seamless Gutter Systems. Having seamless, K-style gutters tailor-fit to your home’s style will not only elevate the overall look of your home, but also improve its market value with the extra protection it provides. You’re not likely to experience corrosion or leakage since there are no vulnerable gutter seams present with K-style gutters. K-style gutters can also hold more water, improving their capacity to withstand heavy rains without easily overflowing.
Sump Pump System. When water from the gutters saturates the soil around your home, it eventually accumulates below your foundation. A sump pump can remove that water and send it far from your home before it gets a chance to cause any damage. Here at Foundation Systems of Michigan, we offer Pro Series sump pumps that feature a cast-iron/cast-aluminum casing. If you are worried that your pump won’t activate during a blackout, consider getting a battery backup sump pump as well. This way your pump will always work, power or no power.
Interior Drainage System. Unfortunately, exterior drainpipes are prone to clogging and require heavy excavation when not installed during the construction of your home. On the other hand, an interior drainage system can be installed quickly and easily. Our AquaStop® Drainage System runs along the perimeter of the basement and collects water that comes in through the walls. Since it is installed on the footing away from any dirt, it does not clog. When it collects the excess water, our AquaStop® Drainage System will direct it to the sump pump system.
Contact Foundation Systems of Michigan to Fortify Your Gutters
At FSM, we understand how all parts of homes work together to keep you safe and dry. When one part of your home malfunctions, you’ll notice issues with the rest. In fixing your gutters, you make the investment in a long-term water management system for your home to last you for years.
Fixing your gutters is a huge investment, and we want to make you feel confident in this decision. That’s why we offer a completely free inspection and no-pressure quote. In choosing to book with us, we also offer you transferrable warranties and flexible financing plans. Start your journey with us today!