In this episode, Daniel talks about how easily cutting corners can lead to leaks- especially when it comes to gutters and downspouts.

Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB030-207

 Shayla: Thank you for joining us for the Roof Life of Oregon podcast. I’m talking with Daniel today. Daniel, tell us how a gutter can actually cause a leak, and maybe, do our homeowners in Portland actually need gutters?

Daniel: Yeah. Ya know that’s a great question. Typically a gutter on the lower edge of your roof doesn’t cause a leak into your house, but gutters on dormers can. And let me explain what I mean by that. Let’s say you’ve got this beautiful house and the whole front-facing is one solid piece, but then you’ve got these nice dormers that give it an architectural look, just makes it look pretty. So you have these dormers that jut out over the top, but those dormers don’t come to the front of the roof, so gutter companies will come in and they’ll add gutters to the ends of those dormers, and they don’t want to have these ugly downspouts run down the sides and down the front of the roof into the lower gutter, because it looks ugly. So they do what’s called a gutter cutback. So they run the gutter back toward the roof, they cut the back of the gutter off so that when it rains, the water runs down the dormer, hits the gutter, then runs back and is supposed to run back down the roof. That causes some serious problems.

First problem it does is it’s making the water run the wrong way. So what we want the water to do is run down and off the roof. When those gutters are cut back, it’s making the water run the wrong direction. It’s run back toward the roof and in some cases, if it’s hard enough, it can actually run up the roof just slightly before it comes back down.

We don’t want water to go up on your roof. We want it to come down. The other thing that happens is they start to build up a bunch of debris. Homeowners can’t get to that upper dormer. They’ll clean all the lower gutters, but they won’t touch the dormer gutters. They fill full of slime, dirt and debris and in Portland, I know homeowners see this all the time, it’s not raining, two days after it’s raining, there’s still dripping water. That’s because of the debris and it’s just backed up and it’s slowly just dripping, dripping, dripping. Causes these ugly, green, nasty slime trails down the front of their roof, no matter what you do to clean the roof and treat the roof, this algae just keeps coming back up. Well, the other thing it does is as it stays wet for so long and going the wrong direction, it starts to leak inside of the house. It starts to work on the nails, the staples, the flashing. Eventually you start to get a leak.

I just had a roof this week do the same thing. He had this leak, it was in the garage, I started tracking where it was coming from, and we tracked it all the way up to a gutter cutback. And that’s what had happened. This was a steep roof, so I’m surprised it happened, but even on the steep ones, it can. The water just kept for years going the wrong direction, the same area, worked on the nails and sure enough, it did, it rusted the nails and that’s why they go, well, it’s never leaked before. It’s been ten years. Well, it took ten years to rust those nails. So my advice for him was, they’re not even needed. He’s already got fascia boards there. Have a sider come in, clean those up, paint them. They don’t even ever have to clean those gutters again. Let’s get the roof repaired. And then move forward. Get those gutters off the dormers. If they’re not needed, let’s not have them. It’s just a maintenance problem for you.

Shayla: So if we are wondering if our gutters are necessary on certain parts of the home, do we call you or do we call a gutter company?

Daniel: You know, you can call us or you can call a gutter company. And if you read roofing manufacturers, they actually say don’t have an upper roof spill down onto a lower roof. They actually tell you not to do that. If you remove those gutters, the water’s going to run down like it’s raining where it would’ve dripped anyway. So some gutter companies will, some gutter companies won’t. It depends on how they’re paying their guys. If they’re paying per lineal foot, they’re going to want to put them there, because they’re going to want to make money. So talk to both. Talk to the gutters, see what they have to say. Talk to roofers, see what they have to say. But in our experience, those dormer gutters serve no purpose but problems.

Shayla: Alright, so if you’re wondering about your dormer gutters, reach out to the team at Roof Life of Oregon. Thanks, Daniel.


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