Not Required, but Highly Recommended

The other day I inspected a home in Chesterfield, VA.It was in a private community where all the homes appeared to be at least 5000 sq ft.I always show up to an inspection about 30 minutes early and this inspection was no different.I knocked on the door but no one was home.I decided to start the inspection and wait for the realtor and buyer to arrive. The first thing I realized was that the house had no gutters.It was not the first time I have seen this so I noted it and moved on.Fifteen minutes into the inspection, I hear some noises inside the house.I knock on the door again and the owner comes out. Long story short; I was at the wrong house!

Luckily, for me, I was still able to arrive to the actual inspection 10 minutes early.I always start the home inspection with the exterior, and again, I noticed there were no gutters. I got around to the back and there was one run of gutters installed but it was not even from one end to the other end of the house.I noted it and moved on.Four hours later the inspection was over.I went over a few things with the client including the lack of gutters. She asked me “do we really need them?” As I began to explain their importance, it dawned on me why neither house had any gutters.The owners of these luxurious houses had decided that gutters subtracted from the curb appeal of their homes.That is why neither house had gutters except for the one run on the BACK of the second house.This is a huge mistake and I am going to explain why.

The main purpose of gutters is to collect water and discharge it away from your foundation.Moisture is the number one enemy of your foundation. When you do not have gutters installed, the rainwater runs off your roof and saturates the soil the around your foundation. The moisture then moves through the foundation walls and dries inside. Moisture intrusion can affect the ability of the soil beneath the foundation to carry the weight of the structure above and may cause structural damage from soil movement. Moisture intrusion can also damage home materials and encourage the growth of microbes such as mold.The freezing and thawing of wet soil near your foundation can also cause horizontal cracks in your foundation wall due to expansion of the soil.In short, it is very important to have correctly installed gutters and downspouts.

Most homes have gutters, but have downspouts that terminate right at the foundation wall.This causes all the rainwater from the roof to discharge in four or m
Another common defect I find during home inspections is improperly pitched gutters.Gutters need to pitch 1/8 of inch per 10 feet towards the downspout.Some argue that if you have two downspouts on either end of a run of gutters, then installing it flat is acceptable. Talk with your contractor to figure out what is best for your home.Either way, gutters that hold excessive amounts of water are prone to failure.They will rust out if they are metal or they will become too heavy to support and eventually faore concentrated areas around the house. One inch of rainfall can produce upwards of a thousand gallons of water.The concentrated moisture at the corner of a house is more than likely going to make its way into the foundation eventually.Downspouts should terminate 4-8 feet away from the foundation.

The most common defect with gutters however, is dirty ones.Gutters filled to the brim with debris are ineffective.They also encourage algae growth and shorten the life of your first row of shingles.They will start to smell and eventually attract bugs.If you do not want to clean the gutters yourself, then find a neighborhood teenager who will do it for cheap.Just make sure you keep your gutters clean.

Well you had gutters installed with the proper pitch, your downspouts terminate 8 feet from the foundation and you have developed a business relationship with the neighborhood handyman to clean your gutters once every three months.However, you have noticed that you still have new moisture stains on your basement walls.

Many things can lead to moisture intrusion in your basement besides the lack of gutters.A negative grade, melting snow, and damaged drain tile are just a few other issues that cause wet basements.Whenever you suspect that you have moisture intrusion in your basement, efforts should be made to determine the source and correct the problem.

If you have any questions about anything you have read in this article please ask.