Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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The Harvest Will Be In: The Problem with Gutters

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Proper gutter maintenance is the best way to take care of your roof, walls, and foundation in one simple step. Here is what one inspector found.

It has been a long day, and now I am sitting back reflecting upon the work of the day. I do not carry a camera to take pictures of the homes that I inspect for reasons of my own, but today I should have. I would have taken a nice picture of corn swaying in the breeze.

Last year, an inspector from another city in Texas showed me a photograph of corn growing out of a gutter. I had a good laugh, but I never really thought that I would see this plant in a gutter. I have seen many things growing or making their home in a gutter. My favorite was the small tree with roots going down the drain pipe. Shortly after seeing the corn photograph, I saw a single stalk of corn growing in a gutter. I thought it might be a little joke from the universe to let me know that strange things are not so strange. Today, the universe wanted to remind me that it can happen again. A row of corn growing in a gutter on a two story house.

When I was going over the report with my client, I told him that I had good news and bad news. Good news: in six to eight weeks the harvest will be in; the first on your block with corn. Bad news: your gutters need to be cleaned out, which will ruin the harvest. He laughed, but he wanted to know why it was important to keep the gutters clean. He felt it would be a hassle to go up there to clean them out.

True many homes do not have gutters, but I do like to recommend them. I should write that I really want people to consider a plan to have the water flow away from the building. In Houston, we refer to our soil as gumbo soil, but a better name is expansive clay soil. As the clay absorbs water, it helps to move the foundation. As the soil dries, the foundation moves again. We no longer have a drought in Texas. It ended last year, but I suspect that our usual weather of dry periods and wet ones will give our soil a chance to move about. Water and moisture also play their part in damaging our light frame constructed homes. Wood frame homes could last up to two hundred years, according to studies, when they are well built to withstand moisture penetration.

Gutters are a great way to move the rain water from your roof off your property. It would be great if you could save the water for later use through rain barrels, but if you are not in Texas, I would suggest checking your local laws. For example, it is illegal in Colorado to collect rain water. There are systems to prevent the foliage from collecting in your gutter, and most do it yourself means are easy to install, and they do no need much maintenance. I would suggest a little planning with the downspouts. One builder placed the downspout for the front roof directly on the front entry way walk. It worked, but what would happen to someone walking to the front door in the rain?

The downspouts need to direct the water away from the foundation, either by a splash guard or tube. Look to see that the grading around your home moves the water away. Leave the corn for the vegetable plot.

For more articles about your roof, you can go to Roof Inspections in Houston page.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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