What do home inspectors look for when inspecting gutters?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A gutter system collects rain water from the edge of a roof and deposits it away from the house foundation. Sounds simple, but a number of things can go wrong. Inspectors look for problems caused by poor installation and deterioration or damage of the components over time. Here’s some examples:

1) Missing splash block - Ideally, we would like to see a downspout extender that terminates at a splash block several feet away from the house, like in the photo below.

    But, even if the downspout ends at the bottom elbow, it needs to at least have a splash block and it should slope downward. The gutter shown below has no splash block and it’s clogged at the outlet.

2) Inadequate ground slope away from house - A minimum six inch drop in the first ten feet from the house is necessary for good drainage after the water leaves the downspout. Otherwise, even with gutters, you end up with with water puddling around the house foundation. For more on this, see our blog post How much is the ground required to slope away from a house?  A homeowner’s addition of soil for new landscaping around a home sometimes undoes the builder’s original site grading.

3) Debris in the gutters - Leaves accumulate in gutters and have to be cleaned out seasonally unless gutter guards are installed. Leaf debris can also backup at the base of valley inside corners. And rock granules build up in gutters as they are gradually shed from asphalt roof shingles as they age.

4) Gutter end caps installed against wall - If the end cap abuts siding or trim, then the surface weatherproofing can’t be maintained and inevitable leakage from the end cap can enter and damage wall area below it. Minimum of one inch gap is standard.

5) Missing, loose, or damaged downspouts - Also, upper downspout sections should lap inside lower ones to avoid leakage at connections.

6) Loose or leaking gutter connections - These defects can allow water to migrate behind the gutter or drain behind it at the fascia. Gutter connections need to be checked and resealed regularly to avoid this problem.

 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to several of our other blog posts about RAIN GUTTERS:

Does a house need gutters to pass inspection?

Are rain gutters required by code? 

• Is it alright for a gutter downspout from an upper roof to empty onto a lower roof? 

Should I put gutters on the house? 

Does a home inspector check gutters?

Why do roof edges start leaking? 

• What is the average life expectancy of rain gutters?

      Visit our SITE and ROOF AND ATTIC pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

Gutter Diagram - James Hardie

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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