Don’t make Griping about Gutters so easy on this Marion County Home Inspector

Debris Noted on a Roof Inspection on this North East Salem Oregon GutterYour gutters need attention.  The shorter days have told the trees to drop their leaves.  Not only that, the rains are about to begin again. Your gutters will be working overtime for the next few months in this area.  It is important to keep your gutters clean.  This will require cleaning your gutters out several times over the next few months as the different trees around your home drop their leaves at different times.

We all know that the parts that are exposed to the elements (and leaves) are important to keep clean but lets not forget about the underground pipes as well. These pipes are low and out of sight and are easy to forget about. Those underground pipes are probably the most important part of the system as they will collect, concentrate, and (hopefully) remove the concentrated storm water from around your house.a home inspection of a downspout revealed leakage on this Illahe home inspection

In Marion and the surrounding counties, the underground pipes are usually where things are going wrong and unless inspections or unusually close attention is paid, things can go wrong for months or even years.   It really is all about the way we receive rain.

The rains in the Willamette valley, in Salem and surrounding parts of Oregon show up in mid October and things stay moist until the middle of May.  We don’t necessarily receive a lot of rain, it is just steady and the clouds do not usually part long enough to dry anything out.

The gutters, downspouts and underground pipes are the wettest points around our home.  If there is water in your crawl space or basement the gutter and downspout system is usually the main culprit.  Standing water in the crawlspace of this South Salem Home

A great test for the underground system is to shove a garden hose in it and see where the water comes out.  If water bubbles to the surface in the area you are testing…….you have some work to do.


Gutters/Downspouts: the most important system on your home in Salem, Oregon

I am a home inspector in Salem Oregon. Home inspections are generally based on a perfect home. The one issue with that is that there is no such thing as a perfect home.

The job of a competent home inspector is to see and comment on everything. It would be impossible to determine what our clients did or didn’t care about in the thousands of components and systems that we look at. So we comment on everything and let our clients determine what they find important and significant.

Of course there are exceptions such as, in the Salem area of the Willamette valley Oregon, gutters and downspouts. If there is one system that needs to work perfectly it is the gutters and downspouts.

It has everything to do with how we receive rain. In our area the rain comes down relatively slowly. Very seldom do we get sudden volume, like an inch in a few hours, like other parts of the country. Our rain just seems to be slow and constant for about 5 to 6 months.

This means that grading is not terribly important. The soaking rains will soak in to the soil before they have a chance to run towards your home.

Gutters and downspouts however have an absolutely critical role in moisture management. If they are not fully functional they allow excess water to spill on around or under your home for 5 to 6 months. If the gutters are plugged or the seams leak they will spill water on to the soffit, fascia or splash water against the siding for 5 to 6 months! All of this wood and water is an ideal condition for things that eat wood. Fungus, wood boring beetles, and termites will all enjoy the easy refined cellulose meal that is your home.

Plugged downspout?

Even if the gutters appear to be fully functional above ground there is the, out-of-sight-out-of-mind, below grade downspouts. The downspouts going below ground has been very popular for the last 20 years. This is a major source of water intrusion for the crawlspaces in our area. When newly installed the downspouts should hug the foundation around the perimeter of the home and flow toward the storm drain. This is one of the first items to be installed on a new home and possibly vulnerable to damage until it is covered during final grading. If the concrete walkway poured over the pipe damages or disconnects the pipe, it can dump all of the water collected on the roof on to the soil near the crawlspace. This condition can lead to water in the crawlspace but also foundation movement.

Homes are not perfect. Lack of maintenance, wear and age can all have effect on homes. If you own a home in the Salem area of the Willamette valley keep your eyes on your gutters and next time it is raining, investigate your downspouts. They are one of the most important components of your home.