Gutters & Downspouts 101

Here in Bel Air, MD we see a wide variety of weather conditions.  They can range from draught to hurricanes, from mild winter to “Snowmageddon”.   Things change rapidly here and we have to be prepared for the many extremes we encounter.  One of the things we can do to prepare for the variety of rapid weather changes is to check our gutters and downspouts regularly.  Sometimes monthly, depending on what kind of trees you have and how close they are to your home.

Most people think gutters are designed to keep water off our heads. While this is true, their main purpose is to protect our homes’ foundation and contents.  Gutters and downspouts work together as a system.  They collect the rain water from the roof and direct it away from your home.  Similar to the concept of trenching in the middle ages, to keep water out of your tents.  All rain water and sump pump water should be discharged and directed at least six feet from your home.

Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned and checked to ensure they are firmly attached, a loose or detached component will not only fail to direct water away, but can blow around and cause damage to your home’s windows, siding and fascia.  You should have rain leaders that extend at least six from your foundation and the ground should slope away from your home.  Splash blocks are a nice touch but do little to direct water away, they are designed to keep water that is exiting the downspouts from eroding a hole in your lawn by spreading it out and softening the splash.

In short rain leaders are extensions to your downspouts that take the water from your foundation.  There are three types;

  1. The simplest is, downspout pipe added to your existing spouts and laying on top of the ground.  These can be easily tripped over and crushed.  They also need to be moved to mow the lawn, and can kill the grass under it by blocking the sun.
  2. Plastic pipe that does the same as above but does not crush as easily. It is still on the surface and is unsightly.  I still trips people and kills grass.
  3. Finally plastic pipe that is buried in the ground and opened to the surface at least six feet from your foundation.  This method is the best, it is hidden from sight and damage and can’t be tripped over. You also don’t have to move them to mow.  They can also be extended to the road or far away in the yard to keep the lawn near the home dry.

Whichever method you choose there should never be holes in your rain leaders except for the outlet.

At BH Building Service, Inc., we can clean and inspect your gutters and repair them as needed.  We can also install rain leaders and gutter guards to keep out the leaves.

Give us a call. We don’t mind answering questions.

Brian Hastings, President