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 HOA's gutter system. Hard rain and blustery wind are always around once spring hits the air in New Jersey—and that weather can play havoc with the drainage requirements of any co-op or condo community.

Why They're Up There

“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 leak into walls and cause expensive damage to plantings and paving. A clogged gutter with water spilling over can damage exterior paint, say the professionals, making it blister and peel much sooner than it ordinarily would. It can rot the fascia board, leak into your eaves, cause flooding in the basement and—perhaps worst of all—cracks in the foundation. If that seems like a lot of power, consider that it was water that created the Grand Canyon.

"You want to be able to control the flow of water, and if the gutter isn't functioning properly, you don't know where the water is going,” says Michael Pittaro of Garden State Gutter Cleaning in West Orange. “It could be going behind the gutter and into the building. It could be coming over the top. It could be going underneath the roof. If the water is not going in the place you want it to go, it could be rotting out the wood behind your siding. It could be destroying your foundation."

The pros point out that homeowners frequently don't spot a gutter problem until it's too late and damage has already been done. Even the best gutter and roofing professionals don't have x-ray vision, and it's very hard to see what’s going on behind a wall, or up in the attic. It’s often not until a unit owner sees a dark spot on the ceiling, or some rot on the eaves that they call in a professional, and by then the problem may have been going on for months or even years.


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