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EXTERIORS of buildings
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
ALGAE, FUNGUS, LICHENS, MOSS
ANIMAL ENTRY POINTS in buildings
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
ATTIC CONDENSATION CAUSE & CURE
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged
BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES
BOOKSTORE - EXTERIORS
CAULK GUN TYPES, CHOICES
CAULKS & SEALANTS, EXTERIOR
CONNECTORS, FASTENERS, TIES
DRYWELLS, FRENCH DRAINS for FLAT SITES
EIFS & STUCCO EXTERIORS
EXTERIOR WALL SIDING TRIM & FINISHES
FLASHING MEMBRANES PEEL & STICK
FLASHING for METAL ROOFS
FLASHING ROOF WALL DETAILS
FLASHING ROOF-WALL SNAFU
FLASHING SIDING DETAILS
FLASHING WALL DETAILS
FLASHING WINDOW DETAILS
FLASHING WOOD ROOF DETAILS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
HEAT TAPES & CABLES on Roofs for Ice Dams
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOISTURE PROBLEMS: CAUSE & CURE
MOLD DETECTION & INSPECTION GUIDE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
PAINT & STAIN GUIDE, EXTERIOR
PAINT FALURE, DIAGNOSIS, CURE, PREVENTION
PAINT FAILURE DICTIONARY
PAINT SURFACE PREPARATION
PORCH CONSTRUCTION & SCREENING
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
RETAINING WALL GUARD RAILINGS
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF DORMER TYPES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROT RESISTANT LUMBER
SIDING TYPES, INSTALLATION, DEFECTS
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
STAINS on CONCRETE
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STUCCO WAll FAILURES DUE TO WEATHER
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
STUCCO PAINT FAILURES
SURFACE GRADING, SITE DRAINAGE
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRIM, EXTERIOR CHOICES, INSTALLATION
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in buildings
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Roof gutter leak problems, part II. This article describes additional problems with roof gutters that cause leaks and building water entry, including backflowing gutters: leaks between the gutter and fascia board, and gutter installation errors (poor support, bad slope.
We explain the cause, cure or prevention of sagging gutters, and we explain how to notice drip lines on the ground close to a building beneath gutters - an indicator of the history of gutter spillage and a possible explanationof wet basements or crawl spaces.
We discuss the importance of gutter end caps. We also discuss the problems that occure when gutters are installed on a building with no roof overhang.
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"Backflowing gutters" is a term we coined to refer to the problem that occurs when water falling off the roof edge runs behind the gutter or between the gutter and the building fascia rather than falling into the gutter.
There are several principal causes of gutter back-flow:
Often visual clues from the ground level can tell you that gutters have been back-flowing even if it's not raining at the time you are inspecting. But it may take an up-closer roof-edge from a ladder to see just what's going on with a backflowing roof gutter.
At a building inspection of a new home during a heavy rainfall we observed just this condition. Water was pouring down the roof, behind the gutter, and onto the front entry steps. Standing in the rain we (DF) knocked on the door. The builder answered and we spoke through a sheet of falling water.
That observation was in a sense correct. All of the gutters installed by that contractor did backflow - they were all installed improperly. Often we find that when an installer is not up to speed on a building detail, the same mistake is made at every installation. "They all do that" can mean "they're all wrong."
OPINION: We divide home builders into two groups. Many are very well informed about good construction practices and make it their job (and what they're paid-for) to be sure that the job is executed properly, giving the new owner the best home with the least problems possible.
A second group of builders are folks who do not know construction practices, but perhaps are good organizers, arranging financing and scheduling subcontractors. If your builder is a member of group 2, s/he is at the mercy of the subcontractors, and too often, no one is minding the store.
Installing the roof drip edge behind the rear wall of the gutter means that some roof drainage will run by capillary action down the drip edge and pass behind rather than into the gutter. If the gutter also happens to be a bit loose, not snug against the fascia and drip edge, still more water will pass behind it.
Our detailed photo (below left) shows a gap between the gutter back upper edge and the roof drip edge. Where this gutter is higher along the fascia, the drip edge is actually behind the gutter back wall.
You may think the gutters are working properly, but if an inspection during rain shows a lot of water running from behind the gutters, either the gutters are clogged and overflowing, or the drip edge is improperly installed.
The stains on the fascia in our second photo (above right) often indicate a drip edge problem and gutter "backflow" behind the gutter itself, or a gutter overflow problem due to clogging.
Sagging gutters may be caused by loose or lost gutter mounting hardware, improper or inadequate slope, or the weight of water or debris that cause the gutter to bend.
At above left, when the roof is repaired (or replaced) the gutter needs to be replaced as well. At right it may be possible to repair this horrible gutter overflow by clearing a blockage and checking/correcting the gutter slope.
Simply looking at the ground under the eaves of a building may disclose a small "trench" or "wash area" that marks where soil has washed away directly under the building eaves due to roof runoff spillage. Finding a drip line under a building eaves is a good indicator that the gutters have been spilling in that location for some time.
At above left our photo shows a deep drip line from roof spillage outside of a building extension built over an inaccessible crawl area. There is risk of hidden water entry and water/moisture related damage in that area. At above right we show a wash area at the corner of a building. Often if you look "up" at this location you'll see the end of a gutter that has been spilling-over.
Even before entering the building to inspect its basement or crawl area for water entry or dampness, these clues are a red flag.
Since most folks don't spend a lot of time thinking about their gutters and leaders (until the basement is flooded), people don't notice that the end caps at some gutters have been omitted at original installation, are leaking, or have been lost. The result is often water splashing down walls, causing leaks, water entry, rot, or insect attack.
If your building design includes no eaves overhang (or soffit) it is especially important to maintain the gutters and downspouts.
That's because if these gutters overflow, water won't just spill onto the ground by the foundation, it will first soak the building walls or even enter at windows.
A close look at the gutter on this building shows so much debris on the gutter face that it's probable that the gutter has been overflowing down the home's walls.
Problems with the routing and disposal of roof drainage through downspouts or leaders are discussed separately at DOWNSPOUT / LEADER DEFECTS.
This article series discusses how to choose, install, diagnose & maintain roof gutters & downspouts, & roof drainage systems to prevent building leaks and water entry.
Continue reading at GUTTER HANGERS
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