Go With Your Gutter Maintaining Roof Drainage Systems

Everyone knows the old phrase about April showers bringing May flowers, but what the saying doesn’t tell you is that the rain in April can also bring a lot of damage to your gutter system. Hard rain and blustery wind are always around once spring hits the air in New England – and that weather can play havoc with the drainage requirements of any condo or co-op development.

“The gutters are there to create a channel for a directed flow of runoff from the roof,” says John Reddy, president of Continental Building Consultants, an engineering firm based in Hampton, New Hampshire. “Instead of cascading to the ground, water is directed into the gutters and downspouts, so as not to affect the building.”

Gutters are not only an important element of any rooftop; they are a necessity and should not be treated lightly. When a gutter overflows, it can cause major puddles, can leak into walls and may cause expensive damage to plantings, paving, or – worst of all – the building foundation itself.

“A clogged gutter with water spilling over can do a lot of damage,” adds Jim Moon, president of MoonWorks, based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. “It can affect the paint job on your house, and make the paint peel a lot sooner. It can rot the fascia board, leak into your eaves, cause flooding to the basement and cracks to the foundation.” If that seems like a lot of power, he notes, “Remember: Water created the Grand Canyon.”

Water spilling from a gutter will splash against the building, and Moon notes, through capillary action, it can be drawn into the wooden siding. A board not protected by paint “will absorb water like a sponge,” Moon says. “The water can also absorb into rafter tails, and from there it gets into insulation and gets moldy and musty.


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  • Here in the Mid-Atlantic (Washington DC metro area) much of our rain falls in short sharp torrential downpours during thunderstorms and wind gusts. Gutters and downspouts are completely overwhelmed. I think we'd be better off eliminating them and dealing with the water at ground level with appropriate landscaping.