Downspouts and Gutter Inspection

by | Jan 9, 2023

Rain gutters are placed at the eves of a roof. The eves are the lowest point on a roof and where rainwater runoff flows gravitationally. The gutters have a simple, yet important job. This system is intended to collect roof water runoff and guide the water toward a drainage point. Once the water meets the drainage point (known commonly as a downspout), the water is then delivered to the end of the downspout where, ideally, it will terminate into an underground pipe that delivers the water to another location further away from the structure, or the water is drained onto the lot in close proximity the foundation of the house. 

Why is a Gutter Inspection Important?

Gutter operation is a simple process, but a rather important one. Here in the western portion of the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with high levels of precipitation. The rain is what we are known for and what gives us the natural beauty we are lucky enough to be immersed in every day. But the vital lifeblood of our region is also the most destructive force on Earth. If water is not managed, it can cause damage to our structures over time. Gutter operation is an important management system for the health and well-being of our homes as well as our personal health. Unmanaged water can result in wood rot, both by direct contact and by attracting wood-destroying insects to wood materials with high moisture levels. Rotten wood is often the cause of fungus and mold. These spores could create a health concern in our living spaces that must be addressed and mitigated.

Gutters that overflow or leak will allow water to splash the exterior siding and bulk water collection to rest directly against your home’s foundation. Standing water or super-saturated soils in direct contact with or below a structure’s foundation can result in damages including moisture penetration through the foundation, exterior hydrostatic pressure, and shifting supportive soils below the foundation. Moisture penetration through the cement foundation into interior spaces will increase interior humidity levels, increase the opportunity for mold or fungal development, and cement spalling resulting from below-freezing exterior temperatures. Spalling is the result of moisture retention in a cement structure during times of below-freezing temperatures. When water freezes, it expands. If the moisture is inside the concrete due, to its porous nature, the expansion of the molecules may allow the concrete to fracture and create cement cracks and chips. This is a very big issue that could have been avoided with a thorough gutter inspection.

Our Professional Experience & Suggestions for Gutter Inspections

Often, we find that downspouts are connected to underground rain drainage pipes. Sometimes the house is older, and the structure was not built in an era when these underground drainage systems were valued yet, or the homeowners were encouraged to remove their downspouts from the drainage pipes by the municipality to help reduce the strain on the storm drains. Unfortunately, this encouragement was only good for the municipality and left the homeowners with a potentially damaging situation adjacent to their foundations that they would be left to deal with on their own. 

It is in this inspector’s opinion that all rainwater drainage systems should be controlled to fit the specific situation the location of the house is set into. If the lot slopes, the downspouts should be installed to terminate downhill past the soils that support the foundation. If the lot is flat, then underground pipes should be employed. If the lot has an ideal soil grade slope of at least 6 inches lower in elevation within the first ten feet measured from the foundation, termination of rainwater runoff should be extended a minimum of 6 feet from the foundation, if the termination point is above ground. 

Take your rainwater runoff seriously. Do not allow standing water to rest against your foundation. Don’t allow your gutters to fill with debris and overflow. Connect all your downspouts and at the base to either the underground drainage pipes or to extensions that direct bulk moisture away from your structure and into areas where the moisture can drain and not affect the soils directly below your house.

Scheduling a Gutter Inspection with Octopus Home Inspections

Looking for a trustworthy home inspector? If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area schedule an inspection with our team. Octopus Home Inspections is committed to upholding a strong code of ethics, including professionalism and integrity. Our home inspections are very thorough, priced fairly, extremely detailed, and accurate. We provide each client with a comprehensive written report, document our observations with numerous color photographs, and offer unlimited follow-up support to ensure any and all concerns you may have are addressed. We look forward to hearing from you.

“Terrific service, taking time to answer all of my questions on a difficult 85yo house. Alex even jumped into a muddy, tight crawlspace and came out covered in spider webs in order to make sure we got the best photos of a crack in the foundation. Will be using them again for all future home buys.”

Evan (5-Star Google Review)