Your roof is the first line of defense when it comes to rain, snow, hail, and whatever else Mother Nature has to serve up. And here in the Pacific Northwest, she has a lot to offer! However, it doesn’t act alone in keeping your home safe from an excess of water.
A complete roofing system needs to include a gutter system and downspouts to collect the water runoff and take it away from the house. Without gutters, the water would simply roll off the roof and pool near your foundation. It could also ruin any landscaping, planters, and outdoor furniture you have below.
Importance of Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters are attached to the bottom of the roof that is sloping down. The water runs down the roof and collects in the gutter. From there, the water runs to either end of the gutter and is emptied via the downspout outlet. In most cases, there is usually a small ramp or other contraption to take the water away from the home.
Some downspouts empty into a rain barrel while others still are connected to an underground drain pipe that takes the water to the street. The key is that the water is never allowed to pool anywhere near the home. If it does it can leak down through the ground to the foundation and start to cause problems.
Through continued thaws and freezes, the water can chip away at the foundation, causing leaks in your basement or crawlspace. In longer timelines, it could even weaken parts of the foundation, causing large cracks and even endangering the foundation and your home.
Inspect Your Gutters and Downspouts
Rain gutters and downspouts can only do their job if they are free and clear of debris. Water spilling out over the edge of the gutter will have the same effect as no gutter at all. After all of the leaves have fallen, take a few minutes to inspect your gutters. If they are full of leaves, you want to get a ladder and do the time-honored homeowner task of cleaning the gutters.
If it’s been a particularly windy season, some of your downspouts may have become loose or even fallen away from the gutters. Luckily, it’s a relatively easy fix. While there are specialty materials you can get for your gutter system, the vast majority of downspouts are pretty standard.
Reattaching or installing gutter downspouts
Whether you have vinyl, metal, or aluminum gutters, there’s an overall dimension that’s pretty standard when it comes to downspouts. But while you may be able to attach a vinyl downspout to a metal gutter, we don’t recommend it. Use like materials when it comes to your gutter systems because that’s the way they were designed.
Reattaching a fallen downspout is nice because everything has already been measured to the correct specifications. Inspect the brackets that hold the downspout in place to see if they need to be replaced or can be reused. These brackets can be found at almost any hardware store. Then it’s just a matter of putting it all back together.
If you’re installing a new gutter, measure the length from the downspout location on the gutter section to the side of the house. This is how much space you have to cover at the top downspout elbow. You’ll then need to get an elbow piece for the gutter hole, a small length of the straight downspout, and then another elbow that leads to the main downspout pipe.
Measure from where the gutter to the ground and then subtract around seven or eight inches. This will take into account the elbows at the top of the downspout and also allow for an elbow at the bottom. Always get a little more downspout material you need so you can cut out a piece for the above elbows.
Once you have everything cut to size, you can start installing the new downspout. The directions here are the same for installing new or reattaching existing downspouts. You may need metal tin snips to crimp the ends of the metal so that the parts fit together nice and tight.
Each piece should go in at least an inch or so into the corresponding parts. Vinyl parts may require brackets to hold pieces together. You could add a bead of caulk to help keep things in place or hold pieces together with small sheet metal screws, but if a part needs to be replaced, it will be harder to pull apart.
It’s ideal to have another set of hands for the job. One to hold the downspout in place (luckily aluminum downspouts aren’t very heavy) and the other to attach pieces and then to screw the brackets into place. Put the top elbows together on the ground so you don’t have to do it while you’re at the top of the ladder. Make sure there’s a tight fit.
You can even attach these elbows to the downspout so it’s one long piece. Start by attaching the downspout top elbow to the gutter downspout flange and then slowly put the rest of the downspout into place. Make sure everything is still tight and add brackets at the top, just below the elbow.
Then add another bracket about halfway down and a third at the bottom, just above the final elbow. We recommend screws because they hold better than nails and can be easily removed when it’s time to replace the downspout. Then just put the ramp in place and your job is done.
The earth around the home should slope slightly away to keep water moving away from the house. Longer ramps may be required to ensure the water is at least two or three feet away from the foundation. If you see water pooling around the home at the spot of the downspout, you may want to consider installing a french drain or taking other steps to address the problem.
Your Vancouver Roofing Experts
If you find you’re having to reattach your downspouts after every storm or it appears your gutters are starting to pull away from the house, contact Warner Roofing and Construction about replacing the entire gutter system. We have a variety of gutter sizes, gutter guards, fascia brackets, and more to install gutter runs that are 40 feet long and even longer.
Or maybe it’s time to look at your entire roofing system. If your old asphalt or three-tab roofing is looking a little worse for wear, Warner Roofing carries a wide variety of products that will provide greater protection and give your home an immediate facelift. Contact us if you have questions about new gutters, roofing, or even installing a skylight or two.