How to make sure your gutters can deal with climate change

A picture of a rain gutter filled with autumn leaves Photo by Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Canada’s climate patterns are changing, which means extreme weather is becoming the norm for many places across the country. Drought, floods, heat waves, and storms make the news with frightening regularity. While protecting people from the worst of these incidents is a top priority, there’s no question that property damage is a real concern as well.

Although there’s a variety of things you can do to protect your property from the worst that Mother Nature can throw at you, you may not have thought of protecting your gutters. Big mistake. If your gutters malfunction, you run the risk of serious water damage to your cottage the next time there’s a downpour or thaw.

Here’s how to make sure your gutters can weather the weather.

Keep your gutters clog-free

If your gutters are clogged, a heavy rainfall can actually damage them, pulling them away from the building or causing them to collapse altogether. Clogged, flooding gutters can also cause water to get inside your home, leading to damage and, potentially, mold growth. Have your gutters cleaned regularly, and consider installing a shield to keep debris out.

Make sure your gutters can handle the right amount of rain

While the average amount of rain and snow that different regions get is highly variable, the overall annual precipitation rate in Canada is going up.

If you happen to be in an area where the rainfall has increased, your gutters may not be big enough to accommodate extra water. And if your downspouts are too close to your cottage, extra water could cause water to get into your basement (if you have one), potentially leading to foundation damage.

If you notice that rainfall has increased and your gutters are regularly overflowing, check for clogs, and assess whether you might need more downspouts to speed up drainage. Wider gutters are also an option.

Check your gutters’ integrity

At the opposite end of the climate spectrum is drought and heat. Alternating downpours with dry, hot weather can cause your gutters to rust or corrode, while steady sunlight or extreme cold can degrade some types of materials, so keep an eye on them to make sure they’re intact.   

Use your gutters and downspouts to harvest rainwater

If your area is prone to droughts, consider using a rainwater capture system to make the most of limited precipitation. Many municipalities offer rain barrels at inexpensive prices, or you can install an underground drainage system that will help direct water where it’s needed.

Make sure your gutters are securely fastened to your house

High winds and heavy snow can tear already shaky gutters off your cottage, so check to make sure everything is securely fastened. Make a gutter inspection part of your regular fall and spring maintenance.

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