Gutter Cleaning & More: It’s Time To Prepare For The Rainy Season

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!

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.

ISSUES ARISING FROM CLOGGED GUTTERS:
  • Interior unit damage from roof or window water leaks.
  • Stucco damage and stucco discoloration (the nasty black streaks).
  • Wood deterioration from both wood rot and termite infestation (wet wood makes wonderful termite food).
  • Excess water around the foundation slab could facilitate slab cracks due to soil subsidence; soil subsides when it becomes soaked with water and becomes heavier than the surrounding soil.
  • Excess water around the foundation could facilitate saturation and subsequent water evaporation into the home.
  • If you have expansive “clay filled” soils your soil (and foundation) could “heave” (lift).
FREQUENCY

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.

DON’T FORGET YOUR DOWNSPOUTS

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.

INSURANCE IS CRUCIAL

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.

ROOFING MAINTENANCE PROGRAMS INCLUDE:
  • Inspect roof surface and all roofing system components for damage.
  • Replace all missing or cracked roof tiles, shingles or asphalt.
  • Clean all gutters and downspouts.
  • Clean out dirt, leaves and debris from all scuppers, valleys, drain bowls and conductor heads.
  • Replace or refasten all gutter spikes as needed.
  • Apply additional mastic around all roof penetrations (this includes all roof-mounted equipment, skylight curbs and HVAC or other systems).
  • Inspect metal coping seams and exposed fasteners and seal where needed.
  • Inspect all roof pipes and flashings and seal and paint where needed.
  • Ensure that downspouts direct all water away from the building foundation and into the storm drain system.

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.

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