There are many things your community can do to prepare for the rainy season, but two of the most critical items to inspect, clean and maintain are your gutters/downspouts and your roofs. By performing annual roofing maintenance (which includes gutter/downspout cleaning) you could easily prevent costly water damage and other issues from occurring during the rains. Plus, by implementing these simple preventive maintenance measures you could get an additional 5 to 10 year’s life from your roofs – consider the cost savings!
Your gutters channel water from a large area (up to 3,000 square feet on average) of roofing surface away from your home, protecting your windows, doors, exterior cladding, decks and foundation slab. To function correctly and channel these thousands of gallons of water into the storm drains requires that your gutters and downspouts be free of all leaves, dirt and debris.
If there is a clog in just one of your gutters, water can spill over the gutter system and onto your house’s exterior cladding. At best, the water will degrade your wood trim and paint within a year or two. At worst, the water will flow down the exterior cladding and into your windows, doors and openings; decay your exterior cladding and structural framing; and, possibly undermine your foundation. Plus, the weight of the water in the gutter could pull the gutter spikes out of the eaves.
Just like all preventive maintenance measures, roofing maintenance and gutter cleaning should be performed on an on-going basis; at least once a year and preferably in the fall. If you have lots of leafy trees (Eucalyptus) then you should consider cleaning your gutters and downspouts semi-annually. The cost to perform these cleanings is much less than having to perform emergency repairs to the roof itself or damage to homeowner property. Consider the Sands V. Walnut Gardens case we have previously written about (click here). This case is a perfect example of the consequences an HOA can face if they fail to properly maintain their roof (or any other common area components) and damage occurs to a homeowner’s unit.
Downspouts are a key component to the gutter system and should be inspected with the same level of detail as the other components. All downspouts should drain water into the storm drain (only rain in the drain) or into the street gutter, but definitely away from the building’s foundation. Building code requires that the grade adjacent to the foundation be sloped away from the home for the first five (5) feet.
When searching for a contractor to perform these services, make sure you only hire licensed General Contractors (B) or Roofing Contractors (C-39) to perform roofing maintenance work. Insist on seeing, and retaining on file, a copy of their pocket license which will list their classifications as well as their license number. Then check the number with the Contractors State License Board (www.CSLB.ca.gov). Retain on file an original of the contractor’s general liability and workers compensation certificate of insurance and insist on having the association listed as an additional insured.
Buildings, like cars and relationships, are not maintenance free. If you want to get the longest possible life out of your building components, then you must maintain them. By implementing preventive maintenance strategies, you can prevent prematurely replacing roofs and exterior building components which can cost your HOA hundreds of thousands of dollars.