Homeowner Tips: Petunias in the Gutters

I was walking Francis, our Golden Retriever, with my wife  Helen. We have a route on trails that take us behind houses in our neighborhood. I noticed, being a home inspector, that many houses still had leaves filling up the gutters. One house actually had plants growing and flowers sprouting. It actually looked attractive…sort of…if I didn’t know what was happening because of it.

You see when leaves or petunias fill up your gutter a couple of things are going to happen when it rains again.

First, the water that the shingles were made to shed are going to sit on the shingle longer. Shingled roofs along with clay or concrete tile,  slate, and wood shingles are all made to shed water…they are not waterproof like a flat roof which may be built with rolled or other membrane materials. As homeowners, we don’t often think about the actual purpose of shingles and tiles….many of us think they are waterproof.

So when the gutters are full and the water can’t drain off the roof covering as it should it sits on the shingle and seeps. And eventually, you will find moisture stains and/or damage in the attic or walls.

Secondly, with a gutter full the water will have a chance to escape between the gutter and the fascia…the board that faces out under the roof. The water then has the opportunity to drip back under the fascia, under the soffit, and down the wall. The problem is there will be plenty of opportunities for that water to find its way into the exterior wall again causing damage or mold or long-term cause deterioration of the wall components.

So let’s remember that leaves in the gutter or even on top of the gutter if you have gutter covers are not benign and just an eyesore. (except for the petunias growing there)

They will increase the possibility of moisture damaging your home. And the number one enemy of your house is moisture.

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