The Role of Gutters and Downspouts in Roof Maintenance

Rain gutters and downspouts play an important role in roof maintenance—regardless of your roofing material. These water management structures protect your house from water damage, catching rainwater and snow melt and diverting these away from the home’s foundation and exterior walls.

How gutters and downspouts protect your roof
As your home’s water management channels, gutters keep stormwater flowing from the roof through the connected downspouts. This in turn directs the water to other parts of your property, which protects your foundation and walls.

When it comes to protecting your roof, the gutter system helps wash away leaves and debris that could otherwise collect on the roof. If such debris remained on the roof, it could lead to water stagnation which can eventually cause rot and leaks that will damage the roof’s underlayment and get into your home. This impacts both flat and pitched roofs.

When your gutters are clogged, snowmelt can pool and refreeze there. The heavy ice can weigh down the gutters sufficiently to pull them away from the house. The risk of ice dams forming at the roof’s edge also increases when gutters are obstructed.

Maintain your gutters and downspouts

Be sure to give your gutters and downspouts some care throughout the year. Clean them out and clear any collected debris such as leaves, twigs, and soil that will clog up the gutters and downspouts and prevent free water flow. Put this routine maintenance on your calendar for spring and fall.

Inspect the gutter system annually and patch holes or cracks to ensure water does not leak through the gutter channel (you want to keep it flowing to the downspouts).

You also want to make sure gutters are firmly and properly attached to the roof. They should also be positioned with adequate slope to properly drain unwanted water—about one-quarter inch for every 10 feet of gutter length. Your Slate Roof Professionals representative can check your gutter’s slope to make sure it is tilted just right—not too far forward or backward—for effective water drainage.

Downspout guidelines

If you’re having problems with flooding at your home’s foundation, water seeping into the basement, or notice waterfalls pouring from your gutters during heavy rains, there could be a problem with your downspout layout.

The general rule for downspouts is to place one single downspout for every 40 linear feet of guttering for sufficient drainage. This placement will also prevent overflowing gutters during heavy rainstorms. Also be sure the downspout is located so that water runoff travels as far away from the house or garage as possible (at least 10 feet away from the foundation) to avoid water intrusion or foundation erosion issues.

Terminating the downspout near garden beds or other landscaping is good because the water will be absorbed; or place them near properly pitched hardscape elements (driveway, paver patio). You can also put extenders on the mouth of the downspout to lead water away from the house.

Contact Slate Roof Professionals for an expert gutter checkup

Our roofing experts will assess your gutter system’s condition and make any recommendations for repairs if needed. We have installed countless gutters—including Yankee gutters—on homes old and new throughout North Jersey and Rockland County.