Gutters are an important part of a building’s exterior. Badly-maintained gutters can result in basic roof damage because they pull away from the building, as well as in water damage to walls and foundation areas because rain and snow melt is not channeled away from the building. As the rental property owner, it is essential that the lease makes it clear who is and who is not responsible for gutter maintenance and repair.
If the tenant has or assumes responsibility, there are two problem areas which may arise:
- A careless tenant may not maintain and repair the gutters properly, resulting in direct or subsequent damage to roof, walls, sidings, interior roof space, etc.
- The tenant may fall off a ladder or off the roof and make a legal claim because the accident happened on your property.
Gutter Management and Maintenance
- Job 1 is to check the gutters are serviceable. No rust, poor joints, especially at the corners, and no holes. All these allow water to seep or run into the home or down the wall and to pool at the foundations.
- Job 2 is to keep the gutters clean of leaves and other debris. They cause two major problems: if water cannot flow, it overflows, and debris can become a home to insects and vermin which can invade the home.
- Cleaning should be done after the trees have all lost their leaves, after high winds may have blown debris onto the roof, or at any time if last year’s maintenance was missed.
- Wear the right clothing: gloves, eye goggles, overalls, and headgear. If you are climbing a ladder to reach the roof, consider wearing a helmet, and how you can minimize slip-and-fall accidents.
- Use the right equipment: a roof rake, water hose, leaf blower or pressure washer as appropriate.
- Clean the roof before the gutters, so anything that goes from the roof into the gutters only has to be dealt with once.
You may decide to hose the roof, then the gutters or use a leaf blower or pressure washer on the gutters.
- Clean out the downspouts using a flexible brush or water jet. A blocked downspout is almost as bad as a blocked gutter.
Winterize the Gutters
Ice dams can result in water damage. When the melted snow backs up behind a block of snow and ice it may find a way into the roof space and down onto ceilings. If part of the roof is susceptible to ice dams, install a zigzag heat cable from an outside GFCI, up a downspout (to keep it above freezing) and attach it to the roof edge.
Install Gutter Covers
There are several products on the market which are placed over the gutters to let water flow in, but which keep out leaves and other debris. They remove the need to continually clean the gutters.